The Cumberland Throw

The Tip Sheet – 2023 Ep 35: Eels Slump To 7th Loss As BA Finally Blows Up At Officials

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Parramatta’s season has been left in a precarious balance after a lopsided penalty count and some insipid defence saw the Blue & Gold outgunned by the Canberra Raiders 26-18. Sixties and Forty20 are joined by a voice from the crowd this week in Jeremy – a fiercely loyal fan of the Eels – as The Tip Sheet sorts through yet another frustrating loss.

Sixties vents his issues with a sudden shift in officiating over the last fortnight that has seen the Eels concede 17 penalties in their last two games including a backbreaking 10-3 count against the Raiders. Surprisingly, Brad Arthur validates Sixties’ vexation as he lands a scathing criticism of the officiating in his post-game presser. It is the first in his 9.5 years as the head coach of the Eels to do anything of the sort but ‘BA’ was clearly frustrated at the discrepancies between internal correspondance and on-field interpretations.

Defence was the breaking point this week, literally for the team but figuratively for Forty20. Following another game where structurally they were largely sound but a string of lapses and soft contact led to chunk gains for the Raiders, the focus agains falls on why the Eels are playing so soft in defence. Now with South Sydney up next, things can get a lot worse before they get better in defence.

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46 thoughts on “The Tip Sheet – 2023 Ep 35: Eels Slump To 7th Loss As BA Finally Blows Up At Officials

  1. Chris K

    Don’t know what to do after last night. Such high expectations set from last year, my frustration and disappointment feels unprecedented -having been an Eels supporter for over 40 years, there has been precedence, but it just hurts enough to make it feel new. Feels like we have crossed (or have our tippy-toe on) the point of no return for 2023.

    Yes there was some some hometown bais in the officiating last night, but seriously our discipline and overall attention to detail was poor.

    The only call that really annoyed me was the ‘escort’ one whee the issue was Wighton jumping far too early – the rest were just the run of the mill head-scracthers which the NRL have tied the rules interpretation into spaghetti-speak so it seems refs are damned if they do and damned if they don’t.

    Was the same as the Gold Coast last week, some defensive lapses (or collapses) cost us. The lead up to the Raiders 1st try in the 2nd half, saw about half a dozen player misses allowing them to scoot 40m up field to the try line. Although my vision was clouded red, Matterson looked pretty culpable at the time.

    And Haze Dunster? Forget having no Sin Bins against us, we may as well have been playing with 12 men giving his input – the only thing I recall is him dropping the ball after a half promising offload from Penisini.

    You are absolutely correct about it getting worse with Souths before it gets better. If only I were a BDSM enthusisam, then at least the masochism and pain would have a pay-off.

    1. sixties

      i can sum up our podcast. We weren’t good enough, plain and simple. We find ways to lose in 2023. We have a 40% win record under Atkins.

      1. Achilles' Eel

        The Eels and Grant Atkins don’t seem to get along. They’re like the Duchess of Sussex and the Princess of Wales.

      2. Graz

        Please let me know why Jake Arthur was penalised for escort (he only stood his ground); Cartwright unfairly penalised for high tackle; and don’t start me on Bunker Badger re Simonsson ‘hip drop’. All 3 penalties played very significant parts in outcome.
        P.S. the Fox commentary by Ennis was disgraceful. Couldn’t help himself and referred to luck in last 2 Eels tries. Yet he was wetting himself in excitement with Canberra tries from kicks, especially the last one, the bomb which was just a lucky dip.

        1. Milo

          Agreed Graz, fox sports was a disgrace and Mal is a huge dope. Ennis has always been all mouth. Volume down

        2. Shelley

          His side remark about Matterson being a self imposed three games late for his 150th party was a cheap shot. I bet he would not say it to his face without all his back slappers at Fox NRL cheering him on. He needs to remember people into glass houses as he is far from without mistake.

          His commentary is what is wrong with the NRL. Unfortunately the NRL respond to commentators, you watch the crack down on the Cannon Ball over the next three weeks after the commentators spent Saturday and Sunday talking about it relentlessly. These same commentators will then spend weeks criticising the NRL over reaction, a reaction that is because commentators scream about it. Rinse and repeat.

          Most commentators can not leave personal bias at the door. Last year we were the best things ever when Ennis talked about us. He is so transparent and like many others at Fox his over-opinionated view of himself will eventually bring him down.

          1. Ron

            I now watch most of my parra games live at the ground or with no audio for commentary. Makes it so much better to analyse and (hopefully soon) enjoy. I notice that as soon as I put the commentary back on the voices and opinions just annoy me as they are too vague, plainly wrong or slyly misleading to perpetuate certain agendas. Commentators like Ennis really lose credibility in my eyes (not that they had much anyway as being a good player doesn’t make you a good analyst)

          2. Longfin Eel

            It’s got to the stage where it’s just not enjoyable watching a game anymore with all the crap the media go on with, along with the really poor decisions from the referees. The NRL need to be careful here as viewers could just start switching off.

        3. pete

          I stopped watching CH9 some years ago. Now I turn the volume down on Fox because they are all about the ‘Narative’. The Narative is yelled continuously and is more important than integrity of the game. Last 2 weeks the narrative was Jack Wighton crying and then it was about poor Ricky…My kids ask ‘who’s the yelling guy’ because that’s all they do.

  2. Spark

    Yes, the referee was poor. In fact even by Atkins standard it was one of his worst.
    The bloke is so bias and effected by home town crowds that he shouldn’t be in the game.
    I don’t know where we go from here.
    We have tried two referees and they contradicted each other on the field so that isn’t the answer.
    Is there anything else that the NRL can do ?
    Maybe the game has gone to such a standard that one referee just isn’t capable of being able to officiate the game properly and we really have to rely on more assistance from the bunker but there is the catch – the bunker is absolutely and rediculously wrong a lot of time especially with crucial calls.
    Maybe play has to be held up at certain times so that a play can be scrutinised prior to a penalty being given such is the advantage a penalty gives?
    The Simmonson ‘hip drop’ and the Arthur ‘Escort’ being the two obvious errors.
    That all being said there were a couple of points I must comment on –
    Defence – continues to be our problem. We seem to scramble well but our first up hits need work.
    Coaching – a plus for BA is the selection of Simmonson. Bailey has been the best Eels player in the last two weeks and he was immense last night. Well done mate.
    On the negative side – the continued use of Haze Dunster.
    That’s one thing about BA- he’s a stubborn bastard. Everyone knows Haze is miles off NRL level but he continues with his selection.
    Ok Sixties, yes it’s coming.
    In the first 10 minutes we saw Jake run with the ball and take the line on and I thought great – we will have two points of attack with him and Brown.
    Then Jake just disappeared!!! He became an absolute passenger.
    He took another 3 or 4 kicks but he was employed as a half !!!!
    We needed another point of attack as after 10 minutes everything went through Brown and Jake in offence became a mere catch and pass man.
    Defensively, he was ok.
    The whole structure changed when Matto went on as Matto played 5/8 and Brown played halfback.
    Jake then played as a centre.
    The big question is what happened after that first ten minutes to radically change his game ???
    Did BA send word to get out of the way or did the senior players relegate him ?
    Either way, it was the wrong call.
    We needed a halfback out there and not a man just standing in the line doing nothing creatively.
    Was this some weird and wonderful move by BA ??
    If you wanted Matto as the 5/8 then just pick him there and not pick Jake !
    Jake is not a centre!
    Consequently we saw disjointed backline plays and mis timings which caused Penisini and Gutho drop sitters.
    BA is to blame for that mess.

    1. sixties

      Geez, again you saw Jake’s game completely different to mine. We didn’t have enough possession in the second half for any player to seem involved and we didn’t complete enough sets for the ball to come to him for the kick. Centre? You’re just looking at how halves position themselves when the middles take the ball as links. All teams do that – ball goes through a couple of forwards then out to the halves who are positioned wide.

      1. Spark

        Mate he completely disappeared in the second half. He could have played one side and Brown the other in offence. I would love to see his run metres especially after that first 10 minutes.
        I was so looking forward to him taking the initiative as the halfback and directing the play and being the primary playmaker especially given Brown is usually meek in that regard. I rewatched the game this am and concentrated on Jake to reaffirm my position.
        Jake as the halfback should have been receiving the ball first off the ruck and directing the play. He wasn’t.
        Again, I don’t know whether it was by direction of the coach , senior players or because of his youth/inexperience to
        Impose himself.
        This isn’t why we lost as Jake was solid but by playing as a mere link man, it was a wasted opportunity for him.

  3. BDon

    Tks men, good, balanced wrap up. I’ve given up watching games again, I just decide things from what I see live, but I had a look at the Horsborough scuffle again and Matto does not , repeat NOT, incite that incident. He actually goes in to push into Hodgson’s back to add weight to stopping the Raider player getting back into the field, he does not attack or even touch a Canberra player. It’s Horsborough who runs in and causes the flare up. Penalising Matto squared the ledger for the home crowd, why didn’t the bunker give Atkins a quick heads up? That’s a big turnaround, we get a penalty on Raiders line just as they’re adjusting to 12, but no they go to 12 and get a cart up field instead.
    Jake Arthur moved to the ball line, stopped then turned his back, even if he moved a half body width it made no difference to the Canberra leap, which was a badly timed spoiler but got rewarded.
    These 2 calls were mega poor and both Gutho and Carty got really dud calls on high shots when both forced the ball out. It was doubtful that Carty even hit Tapine’s head.
    The Raiders were let go at least 4 times on high shots if those 2 were the standard.
    Our error/penalty count total was 24 to Raiders 11…Nah, really hard to win with those numbers.

    1. sixties

      We continue to make our own job hard enough with errors. We don’t need the ref helping things along. I said in the preview podcast that I hoped for a controversy free game from the officials. Ha!!!

      1. BDon

        You know sixties, this may be my rose coloured glasses, but as that second half wore on I thought to myself ‘all we need is hold the ball and get to our kick a couple of times, the Raiders are dead set there for the taking, or a penalty or error, we just need to get the breeze behind us’…but nothing disciplined or consistent occurred, just a maze of one off hits or misses trying to play catch up. The worth of a penalty when you’re trying to settle/re-set can’t be overlooked, Souths are masters at building from re-starts.

        1. sixties

          There are things in our control which we aren’t getting right. The officiating decisions last night gave plenty of key moments to the Raiders and they were significant.
          PS – the same video official who gave a pass mark to Haas took play back a tackle to penalise Simonsson. Guess which player had a case to answer!

    2. TolEels

      An isn’t is strange that a sin bin is a more heavy violation than a penalty but the Raiders still got the ball after that. The sin bin should negated everything.

      1. pete

        Agree, another shocking decision.
        Do you think after Worriors complaining about Bias. The NRL has actively looked at penalty count data. They discussed this data with referees boss and referees. Then decided Parra’s opponents didn’t get enough penalties. In an attempt to even up the stats across the NRL Parra had to be pinged 17 penalties in two weeks? 🤔

  4. MickB

    We’ve got the 5th best for and against in the competition, yet we are sitting in 14th. Just frustrating all year.

    It’s easy to get biased and look for excuses so that’s what I’ll do!
    1. It feels like we’ve had more than our fair share of games where we’ve played other teams at their best – Titans, Chooks, Raiders, maybe some others too – I can’t clearly remember all 11 games.
    2. There have been a lot of 50/50 moments that have just not gone our way. Some of the bounce of the ball off kicks the Broncos scored off come to mind as an example.
    3. The draw hasn’t really been forgiving at all, with the teams we played in the first 4 weeks, the trip to Darwin and then playing a QLD team at magic round on a torn up paddock.
    4. The inability to get a consistent 17 on the field.

    I’m not convinced about losing the “big moments”. I think it’s just lack of attention to detail as others have said. Lots of it is just moments in the game where across the park someone is switching off, and if 17 players are doing that once or twice a game it just kills your momentum.

    Add in Junior and Brown being quiet most/all season, Lanes injuries, Mattos suspension, our issues with outside backs and plethora of soft tries we’ve let in, it’s not hard to explain why we are at the bottom of the table.

    Atkins – awful. The penalty against Jake was ridiculous. The Paulo and Simonsson tackles absolutely nothing in them (Tapine looked like he was milking), the high shot on Dunster vs the high shot I think it was on Wighton were exactly the same. And I can’t understand how the Raiders got the ball back after Horsborough was sent off? Such a farce.

    1. Ron

      Teams have generally played their best games against us because we allow them to through a variety of errors, poor line speed, minimal kick pressure, mass missed tackles, mass ineffective tackles and outright disturbing defensive lapses. You look at our best players/ higher earners (brown, Moses, junior, gutho, lane, reg) and they have been very patchy this year. This, in turn, hampers the lesser players that have come into the team/starting side. By contrast, south’s big players (latrell, Cody, Murray, Campbell graham, Tetola) have played well consistently and allowed lesser players (host, cheekam, Cartwright, hame sele, tanne Milne etc) to build their game and do a job without suffocating expectations to make up for poor form of big players. It’s easy to criticise our average players (Davey, dunster etc) but the big earners and leaders have been generally poor this year (especially junior and brown) or very poor in key moments (Moses goal kicking, gutho intercepts etc). These leaders/big earners need to own these losses and be better. The skewed reffing of an incompetent atkins doesn’t help but errors, missed tackles and defence have been a problem all year. I’ve seen minimal improvements on that front game to game. Instead it’s the Same rubbish attention to detail generally and a real reality check for a team that was caught up in own hype from last year (and getting to finals over last few years) and recruitment and retention team that was caught up in own hype re: it’s ability to turn average players to great players.

      1. Trapped in the 1970’s

        Very true re what we are getting out of high priced players week on week which is streaky form at best, apart from the most obvious in respect of the dropping of WBlake based on his form.

        The reality is that making the top 8 is looking quite a stretch considering that it’s south’s next game and in the last five rounds include games against the storm, broncos, roosters and the riff.

        Good on BA for having his say about the ref but going by his usual pressers that was a huge spray and one likely built up with frustration from past matches as well. All of us could rattle off so many instances such as with Haas, not even a penalty, but the coaching teams would have dozens and dozens from their game reviews that must be on his mind.

        Injuries and suspensions are playing a big part in the ladder position as well as the loss of Ice, Reed, Marata and Oregon by comparison of who has come in as replacements. I’d only say that Hopgood was a like for like.

        Little luck, injuries, suspensions and a weakened squad are the obvious reasons behind the results so far, but so are attitude and desire and the team overall has been very poor in those areas.

      2. MickB

        Some fair points here Ron & Trapped. To state the obvious it’s not one thing, it’s many interrelated things. To counter though as examples; the game against the Titans, they learnt how to scramble and tackle rather than capitulate, the game against the chooks their passing seemed to stick and there were less unforced errors etc. I also think Reg has been pretty good all year. But yes, we’ve been our own worst enemy for the most part and allowed teams to dominate us for too many minutes.

        I’d rather see us start with Hands and maybe bring on Hodgson, or otherwise consider leaving Hodgson out all together. I also think there’s a potential role for Jake in the centres now, albeit Bailey had been good the last couple of games.

        It does seem like the season is on the brink. A few class signings would give the fans something to cheer about and inject a bit of hope – maybe for 2023 but certainly for 2024.

  5. Spark

    Also it was correctly highlighted in the podcast that we make at least as many linebreaks as other teams but fail to score. This directly correlates with our lack of speed on the flanks. Most teams, when they make a break have a fast winger to link up with and score- that’s their primary job.
    Sivo is pedestrian but brings power and safety in the air so must stay but (as pointed out) the other wing is the big problem.
    Poor Penisini must be sick and tired of making breaks and half breaks without the support of a wing man to finish.
    I reckon we leave 2 tries a match out their due to this deficiency.
    BA just has to address this. He can’t continue to select Dunster and concentrate on other aspects of the team because by doing so, he is disrespecting the importance of the position.
    But who ?
    Whatever he does, he cannot just do nothing and hope it will get better by itself.
    Dunster is miles off the pace and it has to be a top priority.

  6. Anonymous

    What are the issues
    Recruitment – fairly obvious we only have 1 NRL winger since Fergo left. We are left with no pace, no size on the right hand side. Even that young winger from the Tigers has more to offer, why? Complacency on expecting every player signed will step up like Papalii , Marata etc .

    We have needed a strike back, an experienced prop and a winger at a minimum since the start of 2022 due to players signing elsewhere, big clubs don’t miss these needs. Membership, sponsorship, attendances , COE mean not a lot if basic player needs are missed.

    Dummy half, unfortunately the signing of Hodgson has been underwhelming, notice 2 things when he is replaced, line speed improves, and service is quicker and more direct, Dylan Brown looks a different player when Hands plays 9, he gets space and more direct pass given Hands is much quicker to the play the ball. The try to Simmonson illustrates the issue, after the big break Hands was there to feed the ball for Simmonson to crash over. No chance Hodgson would have kept up.

    The recruitment and retention committee only need to see how this season looks to realise the opportunity missed.

    1. pete

      Good points Anon.
      Recruitment is a failure. 28 players? We got to a GF yet we cannot attract players we need. We have our juniors poached from under our nose and playing for other clubs. O’Neil has created is a slow moving train crash with most players coming off contract 2025.
      Too many average signings and O’Neil expects BA to turn them all to first graders? Sure, ice was the best of signings as he only took 1 year to show he was an asset. Most others we ‘have to be patient’. After 37 years I think we all need to have results not patience.

      If Paulo is out next week it will make NO difference. Precisely why we needed Ogden to keep playing NRL.

      There just doesn’t appear any strategy in our team or Recruitment.

      We have a few lazy disinterested players. Too comfortable and are just coasting.

  7. Shaun

    My thoughts on last night are…I had a great meal and conversation in a converted warehouse in Marrickville with friends who have no interest in league. Of course I sneaked a look at the updates and I appreciate TCT and Jeremy doing the hard yards and breaking the loss down.

    not sure where from here for Parra. The season can be saved but the draw is not kind. It would be one remarkable turnaround. As a TCT denizen commented recently “Non est semper proximo anno.”

    1. pete

      Problem is we have a herd of Elephants in the room.
      1. Recruitment
      2. Defence
      3. Tackling technique
      4. Lack of speed
      5. Mental toughness
      6. Strategic thinking

      1. Ron

        Agreed – recruitment and defence would have been so obvious for coaches to pin point as area to improve over the years and lip service was given by parra coaches and players in offseason about “a focus on defence” but lips service only goes so far. The proof is certainly not in the pudding.

        To me, it’s how predictable this was that pisses me and other fans off. How on earth our management tricked themselves into thinking that picking players off the scrap heap and only filling 27/28 spots with haze and simonsson coming back from serious injury + matto out suspended (so we only had 23/24 fit initially + lane jaw and now rcg) was a good idea is beyond me. How they convinced themselves speed wasn’t needed on edges or another experienced middle is beyond me. Every other team identified speed and work rate as important on edges. Reeks of 2018 when we signed players off scrap heap and realised too late that we need bigger wingers e.g fergo and bigger forwards e.g junior. Also, don’t get me started on our pathetic junior development. We have generally let our better ones go (stefano and Oregon) and relied on scraps from other clubs (marata, ice and now Murchie, momoseia, wiremu, makatoa etc). Brown and penisini cover up how bad it truly was for a period of time until more recently.

        1. pete

          We released N Brown to free up cash for Davey? Recruitment manager must GO!!
          Too many bungles. Top players and managers don’t take this club seriously. It’s obvious in Moses signing.. No big announcement no evidence of it being real. Meanwhile Roosters are moving players to clear space for a new half??

  8. pete

    Don’t get me wrong we didn’t deserve to win. But we weren’t as bad as the referee officiating. The referee was a joke. 10 penalties? We all want consistency but their wasn’t any. I dred seeing this referee involved in Eels games.

    Poor effort: Did anyone see Sivo so slow behind our attacking kick by Penisini across to Brown that lead eventually to the Simmonson try. Brown was looking for Sivo on play before and he was nowhere to be seen and later see him jogging into shot? Can Sivo sprint? Unless scoring he’s not involved enough.

    Is Paulo still co-captain? He doesn’t seem to be involved enough.

    I really wanted Dunster to fire but he’s shell shocked and too slow.

    Something that just shows the level of bias in the NRL. This is the time allocated post game:
    2:52 minutes BA’s post match

    6 minutes – Ricky: complaines about how hard done by they were because Horsborogh shouldn’t of been sin-binned.

    4:20 – Match highlights

    Shows the narrative is far more important than match integrity. Given Fox sport had a face to face show dedicated to Ricky leading into this game. Can’t tell me this narrative about Ricky, Wighton and Raiders old boy’s day doesn’t feed into the end result 🤔

    1. pete

      I didn’t mention the 4 second play the ball speed. The NRL needs to investigate this in conjunction with the penalty discrepancies. 2 sets of rules!

      1. BDon

        Pete, I’ll chime in so you’re not talking to yourself. Sivo’s 1%ers can be hard to spot, he’s a player who does some things at elite level and others at ……(fill in the blank) level. I was impressed that he thought he could outjump Rapana by just extending his arms towards the heavens and leaving his feet on the ground, must have thought it was Starling.

        1. pete

          True BDon. Sivo is great if he’s only got 10m to run and is usually very good under the high ball. But his carries, defence scramble and support play is pedestrian. Luckily he scores in most games to attempt making up for it.

  9. Danny Crnkovich

    You lose a Grand final, you expect your team to come back the following season with a steely look of determination to go one better.
    You expect your team to go up a notch in performance after the lesson learned in the GF loss.
    Instead look at what we have, same old same old under Arthur.
    We are not well drilled, cohesive in attack, consistent or sound in defence, never have been under this coach.
    We should be though with the players we have. And that’s the most frustrating thing.

    1. Prometheus

      Yep, I agree. The boys try but the talent here is not being realised. I can’t confidently see this team winning any game we play let alone the comp. It is as you say “same old same old “.

  10. West Coast Eel

    I could tell the frustration in both your voices. It’s just not our year. Poor retention and injuries are going to cruel us. I’m realistic that it is highly unlikely we’ll make the finals. With a bye in the last round, the off-season is going to seem like forever. Man, I’m depressed!

  11. Paul taylor

    This year we are always there but not there . Close but just not good enough . Our back 5 is killing us. No thrust coming out of the red zone . Sivo is purely a finisher . Dunster is not a nrl winger in 2023. He offers us nothing . Junior is a big disappointment Imo. I would be very surprised if he made origin again.

    We are in desperate need of some outside backs and speed. The way the game is played these days you need the back 5 to create and change momentum.

    I do not believe we can make the 8. We need a substantial run starting this week. I am seriously worried about what Walker is going to do to this team . He floats both sides now so we are in massive trouble .

    Feel very depressed about this team and our path moving forward .

    1. Parra Pete

      Don’t let it get you down. Take it as it comes. This competition is so close, any team can beat any other team.We hafta ‘dance wif those who brung us’….Things can turn around like ‘that’..Look at the PD of all Clubs..the Eels are competitive, just missing the “W” in the points column.Que Sera, Sera….Ob la di, ob la dah…

  12. Milo

    For me, bad calls hurt us last night.
    Canberra were never policed in the ruck and the amount of laying over / slow play the balls was disgraceful.
    I’m glad BA called out these referees and the one upstairs again called us out a few plays later like when we played Brisbane.
    I thought we were good last night and it was a credit to the team that they were in it in the final 10 mins. Canberra got more calls than a Pizza Hut in the 90’s.
    Some bad calls got Canberra home for me.

  13. Anonymous

    all this bull about jake arthur and soft defence, i am looking at our favourite king gutho and his positioning in the in goal when grubbers are aimed in goal area. i didn’t see gutho anywhere neer the ball
    . he isn’t reading the play and is always out of position to prevent grounding from opposition, that is my observation over the last several weeks

  14. Brett Allen

    It’s too late to be bitching about referees, would’ve held more water when we were winning, now it just looks like he’s deflecting on his own shortcomings. He might want to look at himself for the first time, and his inability to establish anything resembling a defensive identity.

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