The Cumberland Throw

Post Game Grades – Round 9 vs Knights


Parramatta Eels 43

Newcastle Knights 12

Newcastle laid down their intent to phone this one in from the third tackle of the match and the Parramatta Eels took full advantage, piling on tackle breaks, line breaks and tries at will in the first half and cruising to their best win of the season. It wasn’t perfect but it was a welcome bounce back after a tough loss, and some much needed, confidence boosting downhill running for the Eels pack.

For a dinnertime kickoff at CommBank Stadium, it is absolutely unacceptable that Mr. Chicken was closed, along with half of the other food outlets at the ground. If I’m going to pay 30 bucks for a burger that looked like it had a bite taken out of it and some unsalted chips, you could at least make sure I don’t have to wait most of halftime to get it.

Plenty of X-factor worthy material in this one. The 10-0 first half line break count was incredible, as was the Eels racking up 61 tackle breaks by full time. Really makes me glad I dug into the research to identify Newcastle as a good tackling side in the preview.

The ultimate X-Factor however, belongs to Shaun Lane and his NRL record three charge downs (stat not verified). I hate the charge down as a play, more often than not you are just giving away six more tackles, but here it worked out as well as you can hope. Get em out of your system, Laney baby. For the numbers inclined:

Possession: Eels 53%, Knights 47%
Completions: Eels 29/43 (67%), Knights 25/39 (64%)
Run metres: Eels 2,137, Knights 1,527
Line breaks: Eels 13, Knights 3
Tackle breaks: Eels 61, Knights 46
Average set distance: Eels 49.7, Knights 39.2
Offloads: Eels 16, Knights 7
Errors: Eels 16, Knights 13
Disrespectful field goals: Eels 1, Knights 0

Hard to split a lot of very good performances here, but sitting on the fence just gets splinters in your backside so hat-trick hero Clint Gutherson gets the honours here. Two wombat burrows for tries, some strong work under the high ball (mostly) and his usual excellence in support play, and a casual nine tackle breaks. Some imposter might be making a claim on his title next weekend, but one title ol’ Charlie can never claim is Grades MVP.





Clint Gutherson

1 – Fullback

Sometimes things are just so easy you don’t want to give out the A+ stamp, and so it is with Clint Gutherson this weekend. It was an elite performance on both sides of the ball, and was duly rewarded with his maiden try treble, but against such weak opposition I think you’d need six tries to crack an A+ and on that count, Gutho only got halfway.


Maika Sivo

2 – Left Wing

It was a rare home performance without a try for Maika Sivo, undoubtedly leaving bookmakers feeling very happy with themselves. Sivo nailed the 10/10 difficulty dive with his chip and chase then belly-flopped the regulation pass for a try, but he did his work and had a few nice moments in defence too.


Will Penisini

3 – Right Centre

For about 15 minutes in the first half Will Penisini was an immortal, combining the power of Mal Meninga with the speed and elusiveness of Steve Renouf. The gameplan was as simple as get the ball to the right, where if Penisini didn’t break the line himself, the mere threat of his running opened up space for his teammates. A star is emerging right in front of our eyes.


Sean Russell

4 – Left Centre

Sean Russell finally caught a short kickoff, only to be bundled into touch immediately. That’s an improvement, I suppose. His defensive efforts are still up and down, he made a few nice tackles but was also caught in no-man’s-land once or twice. He did well to finish off his try and just as well to not do too much before Gutherson’s first, but the jury is still out for mine.


Haze Dunster

5 – Right Wing

On what he actually did, Haze Dunster had a solid game. He’s probably the second best of our outside backs (behind Penisini) in rucking out the ball and he’s a solid tackler, but twice in the first half he just couldn’t get there to finish off breaks. He’s overcoming a brutal injury and there is clearly a good footballer in there, but he can’t run at full pace right now. There’s no shame in being one of the many outside backs that takes two years to get back to their best after a knee reconstruction. If he continues to make his recovery in first grade, he’s going to get found out.


Dylan Brown

6 – Five Eighth

Dylan Brown had all the space in the world and looked very good for it, hopefully it was a big confidence booster for a man that has been well marked to this point. There’ll be harder going for him coming, but it was nice to see Dylan at his most dynamic.


Mitchell Moses

7 – Halfback

I love a fired up Mitchell Moses. There was a point in the second half where he believed the touch judge missed a knock-on and he absolutely gave it to them, then gave it to the referee as he ran back into the defensive line. It was probably 36-6 at the time. He carved the right edge and Kalyn Ponga to pieces in that first half, then gave Gutho his hat-trick with another beautiful break in the second. The seven from seven, including a few sideline beauties, was the icing.


Wiremu Greig

8 – Front Row

While property on Wiremu Island is the hottest ticket in town, I’m not booking my flights until he stops dropping the ball once per stint. He put on a couple of real shots, played big minutes and made great metres, and I’m certainly happy with him stepping up, but there’s still some landscaping to do.


Josh Hodgson

9 – Hooker

Josh Hodgson wasn’t really tested through the middle by the Knights, but he had a few moments where he got Reed-level crash ball happy and then late in the game he cracked out his kicking game to the kind of reception usually reserved for Adam O’Brien on Derby Day. He won’t have won many hearts, but at least he didn’t break any.


Junior Paulo

10 – Front Row

It was a lighter evening of work for Junior Paulo than he has been used to this year, but he still managed to dance then power his way over the line as well as breaking seven tackles and getting away some offloads. The metres numbers don’t suggest a killer performance, but the eye test says this was a good one from the co-captain.


Shaun Lane

11 – Second Row

Charge downs do not a great performance make, and while Shaun Lane was one of the few Eels to not miss a tackle, he didn’t join in on the attacking feast as you might expect from a man of his talents. He did get more involved in distribution than we are used to, which is an interesting wrinkle for the Tall Glass of Water. Let’s see how this plays out.


Bryce Cartwright

14 – Second Row

Carty preferred to let others do the hard lifting in his 150th game, not setting the world afire with his run metres but certainly dipping in to his bag of tricks for a few key attacking plays in the first half. He missed too many tackles and I don’t even know how he managed only 11 post contact metres, but he nailed the big moments.


J’maine Hopgood

13 – Lock

Vintage Hopgood this one, digging back into those fine days of early March where he was being fitted for an Australian jersey after two games in Blue and Gold. Huge metres, offloads galore, a key try assist, but my favourite part? Only two missed tackles with 45 made.


Matt Doorey

16 – Interchange

I’d have found a way to get Matt Doorey some time on the field when winning by 30 and coming off a game played in a sauna, but I’m just the grades guy.


Makahesi Makatoa

14 – Interchange

It’s a shame that it takes Reagan Campbell-Gillard going down for our other props to come into their own, but if Makahesi Makatoa keeps playing like this he’ll be impossible to keep out of the first grade side. Good minutes, huge metres, incredible post-contact numbers and some hard runs that pass the eye test. The first time I’ve enjoyed a Big Mac in a good decade or so.


Ofahiki Ogden

20 – Interchange

Ofahiki Ogden got his chance and took it with both hands, feet, ears and every other body part you have two of. It was a good chance to get some downhill running in and show what he can do, and he looks determined to make this last bench spot a very tough call for Brad Arthur going forward.


Brendan Hands

15 – Interchange

A game of footy for Brendan Hands, who threw a forward pass but was otherwise the good kind of invisible; no mistakes, did his job. He’s doing his apprenticeship in the furnace, and handling the heat pretty well so far.

It was fun to watch, but the headlines should be reading “Nightmare Knights” rather than “Electric Eels”. Normally when you say “you can only play as well as your opposition allows” you are lamenting a loss, but the Knights porous edge defence gave the Eels plenty of chances to show off and play themselves back into form.

The ball control still isn’t where it needs to be and while the Knights are a good tackle breaking team, you don’t want to be seeing that missed tackle number cracking 40. Better teams will make you pay for that. Still, this was a great confidence run and made for a nice, stress-free evening at CommBank Stadium.

Now the entire NRL (including your humble grades guy) travels to Brisbane for Magic Round. The Eels close out the show against the Titans on what could be a cow paddock by the time we run on, but it will be a game we are expected to win. The Titans delivered an impressive last start win against Manly in a milestone game for the Sea Eagles, but they’re also the team that has given up a record number of 20+ point leads. We could see absolutely anything come next Sunday night. I can’t wait.

Until then, stay slippery Eels fans.


Stats and images provided by NRL / Eels media


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23 thoughts on “Post Game Grades – Round 9 vs Knights

  1. John Eel

    Enjoyed the grades read. Hard to argue with them. However I am sure some will.

    I thought Gutho was very good Friday night with 3 tries. His defence is outstanding at the back.

    What I didn’t like was the errors and the completion rate.

    Being out there watching that was food for the soul.

    How good is Penisini? Do you think we may one day see two Penisini’s in the Centres? That really is a long shot.

    1. Anonymous

      At least you got some food JE (even if only for the soul – whatever that is) unlike our humble grades guy.


    2. sixties

      It’s possible. They are different builds which is a good point of difference. Watch out for Blaize too!

  2. BDon

    Tks Gol, on the mark I’d say, maybe harsh on Hands, the forward pass aside(which you see every game unwhistled) he was safe and sound. The King and Hopgood deserved top billing.
    Is Adam O’Brien on Derby Day the same as King Charles on St Patrick’s Day?

  3. Prometheus

    Me and my 80 year old fishing mates would have torn the Knights apart. They were that bad it looked like a rig. 0ur Eels need better opposition than that to judge where we are at.

    1. John Eel

      Prometheus is that you and your fishing mates I see in the morning as I walk along The Entrance board walk. Fishing and drinking beer at 9am.

  4. David jSmiles

    Jury is still out here, should of scored 80 and knights were abysmal so let’s see how they back up next week. Couldn’t understand how many times sivo was open on the outside and players chose to go back the other way. Maybe Sivo has upset someone during the week, good result but still need a lot of work and can’t score off every set so they need to calm down a bit and look at the big picture

  5. Anonymous

    Not only were a lot of the food stalls not open for dinner, but for the 2nd home game in a row, someone forgot to order the extra buses to get people home after the game! The queue on O’Connell street was very long by the time the normal Sunday night service showed up. Who’s job is this? Eels or Transport NSW?

    Otherwise a very enjoyable game.

    1. Gol Post author

      It’s all Transport NSW I believe. They need to do something to divert buses properly while the roads are closed after the game, the couple of times I’ve needed to catch one home this year have been an absolute shitshow. Maybe things will improve when the light rail opens, but anybody catching a bus up Windsor Road after a game is in for a bad time at the moment.

  6. pete

    Great grades Gol.

    Gutho – that X-factor talk has really raised his level. He’s been awesome keep it up!

    HopGreat is back.

    Hodgson was better.

    I won’t mention the negatives out of this game. I’m just enjoying the winning feeling.

  7. Prof Daz

    No way Dunster gets a B. It’s a C something. He is a winger, he shouldn’t be lumbering around in the backfield when his centre and half are upfield waiting to give him a saloon passage to the line.

    1. Spark

      I’d actually give Dunster an A for effort BUT the body is not there. Every time he tried to run, he had nothing to give.
      He doesn’t get this back by being in the NRL even as a plan B when Simonsson is unavailable. Terrible decision.
      Carty and Doorey at centre would absolutely be faster and a safer bet.

      1. Poppa

        Have to agree the Dumpster cannot be a B, the thing I am most scared of and knowing BA’s belligerence is that he will keep the same backline, whereas it should be an oxy that Simmo goes into the centres and Russell the wing.
        Simmo is much tighter as a centre than he is as a winger, in case he decides to go that way.

  8. Glenn

    Still too many mistakes & missed tackles for my liking. Imagine score if we had better handling. On Hodgson he missed fewer tackles than normally but made up for it with stupid kicks. Dunster needs Reggie’s until his speed improves. ATM I think I could run him down & firsts is not the place to be when so slow.

  9. Shaun

    Love the grades. Maybe Mitch deserved an A+ just for terrorising Ponga all night. And Maika’s chip and regather deserved some sort of special award. As noted some areas of improvement still but the Knights had been showing some determination recently. I didn’t expect such a demolition job.

  10. Offside

    I loved the 1st half we were almost perfect tge 2nd they took the foot off the gas and tried to score of every play my only criticism was that I’d want them to be more lethal in the 2nd half aswell but maybe I’m greedy.

    Poor Haze is struggling but his defense was great maybe his future may lay in the centres?

  11. Brett Allen

    I think you’re harsh on Carty, I gave him my three votes. He didn’t get many PCM’s because every time he ran the ball the Knights backpedaled like he had Ebola. He was absolutely outstanding on both sides of the ball I thought.

    1. Anonymous

      Spot on he was very good could of had 2 try assists but for Gutherson loosing the ball ang Mitch going out

  12. John Eel

    Given Daejarn Asi was apparently in good form at FB in State Cup on the weekend. Is he an option at Centre in today’s TLT lineup.

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