The Cumberland Throw

Post Game Grades – Round 11 vs Raiders


Parramatta Eels 18

Canberra Raiders 26

They say don’t grade angry, but I’ve waited two days and I feel if I followed that advice you’d be getting your grades on Melbourne Cup day. So the good news is you’re getting angry grades?

It’s official, you can call the 2023 Parramatta Eels losers. Their unique ability to throw away games against any quality of opposition isn’t one of the great sought-after qualities in a rugby league side, but at least they’re special.

Yes, the officiating was ordinary, but with this side there is always something. The refs dudded us, or a sin bin hurt us, the bounce of the ball or a fluke pass or an ill-timed HIA. At some point a loser is a loser regardless of the excuses you can make for each individual loss. Good teams rise above calls and bad luck and win anyway, and the Parramatta Eels are not a good team in 2023.

Once again the X factor belongs entirely to our opponents, as Matt Timoko becomes the latest player to be made to look like Mal Meninga by feeble Parramatta tackling. The statistics do not make for kind reading; a lot of that is the lopsided penalty count, the high error rate and a few key 40/20 kicks,  but the Eels still won line breaks 5-2 and yet again, by the eye test, should have won the game. I am so sick of writing that. For the numbers inclined:

Possession: Raiders 55%, Eels 45%
Completions: Raiders 31/37 (83%), Eels 22/32 (68%)
Run metres: Raiders 1,634, Eels 1,541
Line breaks; Eels 5, Raiders 2
Tackle breaks: Raiders 24, Eels 16
Tackles made: Eels 353, Raiders 289
Errors: Eels 12, Raiders 9
Penalties conceded: Eels 10, Raiders 3

Who even cares? I think I’ll stop giving MVP awards in losses, and start calling out the least valuable player instead. Until that idea gets clearance from the TCT brass, let’s just give this one to J’maine Hopgood and call it a day, huh?





Clint Gutherson

1 – Fullback

When the opposition sneak one (admittedly very well set up) grubber behind the line for an easy try, that happens. When they do it again the next set, then you ask where the heck your fullback was. Clint Gutherson has some unique tendencies in fullback defence and when teams key in on them and exploit them, the result is bad for the Eels. He needs to start calling his captain’s challenge to what the NRL thinks the rulebook is, not what he thinks the rules are, as sure he might technically have a case, but that challenge of the high shot was always going to be pissed away. The sideline conversion was nice though.


Maika Sivo

2 – Left Wing

Some time in the first half it seemed like Maika Sivo remembered he was a big unit and ran with some real venom. His half break when Gutho passed to him on the kick return was vintage, and it seemed to inspire him to his first real tough running in a long time. Long may it continue.


Will Penisini

3 – Right Centre

If Will Penisini keeps up those basic handling errors we’re going to start calling him Pennywise, and we’ve already got enough clowns in this side.


Bailey Simonsson

4 – Left Centre

Somebody get me the name of a discredited lasik surgeon, because if Bailey Simonsson could only see lime green jerseys across from him every week he’d be the best centre in rugby league.


Haze Dunster

5 – Right Wing

Haze Dunster looked a bit better and more up to speed this week, but him catching a cold all first half only to go looking for work and being absolutely buried is the last 36 years of supporting the Parramatta Eels summed up in one run.


Dylan Brown

6 – Five Eighth

He tried, but this wasn’t the “Dyl takes the team on his back” game we desperately needed.


Jake Arthur

7 – Halfback

He looked a bit dangerous on his early runs, then either he dropped the ball or the man he put into space dropped the ball. The defence keyed on him a bit more after that and he couldn’t build on the confident start. His main job was to kick us out of trouble, and unfortunately he’s not quite Mitchell Moses in that regard. 


Wiremu Greig

8 – Front Row

I’m starting to feel it with Wiremu Greig. That “stop him dead in his tracks” tackle a metre from the line was a classic underappreciated trysaver, and his running had some real fire to it. He was the best Eels prop on the field here, which is both a compliment to Greig and a real targeted shot at his front row running mate.


Josh Hodgson

9 – Hooker

I thought he was having an okay game, but once again the Eels scored more tries without him on the field.


Junior Paulo

10 – Front Row

Big Junez needs a rocket fired up his rear end, and if a big fat D grade from the TCT grades guy doesn’t do it then I don’t know what will. With Reagan Campbell-Gillard out of the side we need our captain and forward leader to take the team on his back and roll through opposing packs, not throwing cute passes to nobody and barely making any impact with his runs. Put your head down and run, son. 


Shaun Lane

11 – Second Row

Well that’s just great, isn’t it. Shaun Lane made 8 runs in 30 minutes, like he knew his game was going to end early, and now a hamstring injury will keep him sidelined for “Indefinite” if the classic Eels injury reporting is accurate. 


Andrew Davey

12 – Second Row

Tackles, not a lot with the ball, we’re getting about what I expected from Andrew Davey’s midseason signing. We don’t need good blokes or feel good stories, we need some killers.


J’maine Hopgood

13 – Lock

Decent night for Hopgood, though it’d be nice if his captain, you know, one of the great support players in the game, could be ready for a late offload. You’d think missing one to lose the game against Manly would be enough to stay on top of it.


Bryce Cartwright

14 – Interchange

Nice hands for the Simonsson try, but he was one of several that fell off Timoko on that standing start run that turned the game, just another lowlight to add to the Bryce Cartwright defensive deficiencies reel.


Makahesi Makatoa

17 – Interchange

Look he wasn’t bad, but it was another “tell me one thing Makahesi Makatoa did today” kind of game. 


Ryan Matterson

16 – Interchange

Another who I am dinging for a piss weak arm grab on a single run, but that defensive passage summed up years of frustration at this team. The kick for Hopgood’s try was slick, but your first job is to run and tackle and too often this year I’ve watched Ryan Matterson make a flat footed flailing dive as somebody ran by him.


Brendan Hands

15 – Interchange

His primary skill remains not being Josh Hodgson, and how the Eels attack reacts when he is on the field. Still, we score points with him around, so I’m going to assume he is contributing somewhat to that.

No, we didn’t get a fair shake of it in this game, but there were still some inexcusable lapses in defence and it becomes yet another game we can throw in the “2023 wins pissed away” pile. We still played ten minutes against 12 men and only scored because a back rower bounced a grubber off the post, and we still gave away line breaks to outside backs from a standing start because the effort in tackling and scrambling just isn’t there. Something is wrong with this side.

It isn’t fitness, because we’re finishing strongly in most games, in spite of possession and our own inability to hold the ball. Maybe it is those efforts that require more than fitness, the toughness to make tackle on tackle on tackle, to scramble with tired legs and be in the right spot at the right time just in case. If a team isn’t making those one percent efforts, they aren’t going to win a lot of football games. 

You may have made a grand final, but for the 36th consecutive year you did not win a thing Parramatta. You don’t get to be complacent, to just assume it will happen for you. Where is the fire, the desire to right the wrongs and go one better? What does it say about a club culture when the follow up to falling short is “well we’ll get there again” and not “let’s not let that happen again”? 

Now we go and play Souths, the current best team in the competition, who we haven’t beaten in four years and have lost each of those six games by 13+, usually 20+. And it is Indigenous round. The Parramatta rollercoaster dictates only two results are possible. A soul crushing 40 point hiding, or an even more soul crushing epic victory that makes us all believe in 2023 once more.

Until then, stay slippery Eels fans.


Stats and images provided by NRL / Eels media


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42 thoughts on “Post Game Grades – Round 11 vs Raiders

  1. Chris K

    Yep, can’t argue with any of that.

    Because I’ve switched off with the greater trauma of it all, didn’t know it was Indigineous Round coming up (The Hopgood social media posts probably should have given me a clue, but again – the trauma thing).

    Souths being in the rarest of forms, plus Mitchell and Walker going up yet another gear fuelled with pride in their cultural celebratory round?

    Not looking forward to this hurtfest.

  2. Offside

    I think you’ve been to kind to the team I’d have alot more Fs the season is officially a write off.

    I was saying the other day junior and Sivo maybe the most frustrating eels players of all time capable of so much yet can offer so little.

    We look better with Simmionson at centre
    Other than that we are a long long way off where we need to be and I don’t see anything to suggest that the premiership drought will end within the next few years.

  3. Gol's number one fan

    Hard to disagree with you big bad Gol.

    Even if we had won some of these close games (as we did last year, we found a way to “win ugly”) yes, we would have more points on the table and inside the top 8, but it would be a false sense of hope , and no one wants a false sense of hope, because we all know how heartbreaking the reality check becomes!!

    While I was watching the game on the weekend between work, I said to a colleague who was happy when we were at 8-2 with five minutes to go, and he was “I can be happy with this as a half time score”, I simply replied “there’s still five minutes to go in this half for Parramatta v2023 ” . Sadly, we finished the first half with a single word leaving my mouth. Long, drawn out, it COULD sound like “duck”, but the first letter is something different .

    Sadly our options on the wing (not counting the leading try scoring Sivo) are not good. The bloke on the other wing isn’t the player he used to be, but we don’t have the depth there ….

    Forward depth is Sadly not much better .

    I’m almost at the point of asking, “can we see if Elsie Albert can come and play for the NRL squad? I think she might be a good option, our depth is not good” .

    2023, a hard year to be an Eels supporter


  4. BDon

    Tks Gol, pertinent comments under ‘The Bad’, for me the calls, the luck etc is the drama of RL and good therapeutic ranting fodder, nothing wrong with that as long as you don’t make things up, but your comments are the dose of reality.
    MVP Hopgood tries his best 100% of the time and is not our problem, the trouble is if we”re not careful we’ll drive that Penrith ethic and tempo out of him.
    Hodgson’s best game since game 1, on basic competence not flair and initiative.
    The Timoko run was similar to Brian Kelly try v Titans…a failed opposition play on late tackle.
    Timoko found clear space in the Rapana v Sivo leaping (or non leaping depending on your allegiance) try, while our scramblers ball watched, example of a 1%er. Timoko was the only other Raider there.

  5. Anonymous

    I haven’t even read the whole grades, just finished gutho and by far I like angry grading much better. I’m not sure why gutho challenges, it only highlights his lack of football knowledge. Sure wear have got lucky with that as player was falling but teddy falls every week and manages a penalty out of it. Read the room, we couldn’t buy a penalty yet he has a go at this one. When old mate hooker was still out at the 36th minute I knew we were done for. I don’t even know what new thing it is we need but let’s start with the coach just for shits and gigs. He’s stale and staunch in his lack of repercussions for a shit go. South’s will do an absolute number on us 💯

    1. Graz

      Ridiculous challenge by Gutho. Actually, in many games the ref encourages a team to challenge early, we often hear “do you want to challenge?”. Ref then knows there are no more (for unsuccessful challenge). Ref would have known that when Jake Arthur was bizarrely penalised for escort when all he did was stand his ground. There was also the dodgy high tackle penalty against Carty. Plus of course the bunker making the ridiculous call to go back and penalise Simonsson for hip drop- for which he was then penalised and Raiders scored a converted try, He was not charged, not even one dollar, by the MRC. Strange happenings. Then we have Paul Crawley rubbishing Coach and anyone associated with Parra in todays paper. There was no mention by the author of the article that his brother is on the Raiders coaching staff.

  6. Spark

    Thanks for the grades- well done.
    Don’t cry but we ARE a possibility of coming dead last in this show.
    The Bulldogs have a better roster and the Dragons do have the talent.
    We may be battling the Tigers for the spoon!
    Anyway – last , 15th, 11th … it’s all over.
    It all comes down to the belief that reserve grade players will turn into NRL players under the tutelage of the great Svengali.
    It’s not going to happen and the sooner the club realises it the better.
    It’s going to get bloody ugly this weekend.
    I can see Cody Walker bursting with anticipation like a kid in a candy store.
    He has always said that the Eels game is his favourite game of the year.

    1. Offside

      Yep Friday has bloodbath written all over it.
      I’m of the belief that the only thing that constitutes a successful season is a premiership only 1 team will have a successful year.
      Top 8 is a forgivable year.
      Anything less should be a sack able offence unfortunately the clubs has accepted mediocrity for years and I’ve said before the board/management are not in the premiership buissines they are about the bottom line as ling as membership numbers are high they don’t care

      1. Spark

        The problem with this club is that we are the absolute kings of excuses.
        All I have read today is “we are only losing by 8 points “ “ we are close” “ the refs stuffed us” “ we don’t play well in the rain” etc etc etc
        If we come close to the bottom this year, it will have correlation with membership numbers and the bottom line.
        Again, if we go bust this year BA will need some fancy footwork to convince the board that there is sunlight ahead.

        1. Prometheus

          You forgot the Moon wasn’t in alignment. Some on here are great at blaming everything but what the reality is.

  7. pete

    Can’t argue Gol.

    Junior is going very poorly. Is he still captain? I don’t really see him involved as captain it’s always Gutho.

    I like Davey….But we freed up cash by releasing N Brown and we signed Davey. Our recruitment is a real problem. O’Neil has to go!!
    Top line players and managers Do NOT take O’Neil seriously. We cannot attract players that we need and our juniors are poached from under our nose.
    Just watch Sanders (and probably JA) disappear from the club as Brown moves to Dragons recruitment. Just as Roosters announce signing Moses for 2025?

    Recruitment F-
    Handling the ball F-
    Defence F
    Tackle technique F
    Speed and pace F
    Mental toughness F

    Reserve grade has gone backwards too!

        1. Ron

          I’m just bracing myself to learn that half the sg ball team and Harold Matt’s has signed elsewhere. Would be a typical outcome for promising parra juniors

          1. pete

            Agree, given its reported Brown will head up recruitment at the Dragons next year once they get a new coach. You can expect he’s promised a few players will come with him. He intimated in tct interview how much junior players move from club to club freely… I just hope the club had enough brains to have an anti tampering clause.

  8. Steele

    Just one correction: “didn’t win a *Fucking* thing for 36 years” – complacency and/or lack of desire & team bond is killing us in 2023. What a great team, bunch of guys and coach. You only get so many years in top grade, why waste a Goddamn moment of it Parra? Make the games count, don’t count the games.

    1. Mick

      Correct Brett. Can’t believe he gave Dunster a better grade than a few of them, he was terrible again.

    2. Matthew Sweeney

      I agree , penisini dropped a couple of balls but was very classy in attack. Wiremu was -A as was hopgood and simmo. Dunster ran hard in the second half but I think wonger at his best is the way to go.
      Sivo was good. We are not to far off. If all available my best team.
      Rcg, hands, jnr, matto, lane , hopgood, Moses, brown , penisini,
      Simmo, sivo , gutho, Blake
      Murchison if fit

      If hands can’t get 80 or goes down
      Then chuck the king in their , he’s pretty good wen he jumps in there.
      Simmo can cover fb.
      Or even sivo to fb, he is very safe under the highball.
      Asi as well.
      Something a little bit different

  9. Forde Allan

    We will likely cop a decent hiding against the Bunnies. Indigenous round and they simply have pride in their jersey we don’t.
    Long Long season ahead.

    1. Poppa

      I am genuinely surprised at the negativity on here.
      This game without Moses was always going to be difficult, some thought Canberra would put 50 on us with JA as half. The kid went ok and had nothing to do with us losing.
      Now I do not comment very much about refereeing, when I do it usually about competence…..this was not a case of competence.
      I have not seen such biased refereeing since the 70’s. I have seen a lot of blatant errors……but the bias was almost subtle, but take my word for it the bias was deliberate… I am not calling it conspiracy or corruption just that Grant Atkins for some reason does not like Parramatta…..I can tell you that if it wasn’t for the bunker we would have had Junior and Matterson in the bin. When Canberra got the penalty in the melee that Horseshit got sinned for I could not recall ever seeing the original call not being overturned, he penalised Matto and would have binned him, when the bunker said Horseshit and he didn’t over call his original decision it was inexplicable!
      Finally Gol, if you can’t control your emotions, you are no worse than the players you judge. Penisini had a great game in the centres, Sivo ran stronger than he has for a long time, Gutho tried his guts out, he wasnt exactly hiding when those tries got scored and Junior whilst soft was better than a D.
      We put up a good performance, we have to do better, but this was no where near as bad as some of you make out.

      1. Ron

        I agree it’s not jakes fault (the criticism he gets is bullshit. He has a crack but our “leaders” let him down time and time again and Brown just does a vanishing act without Moses). I also agree we shouldn’t panic but Melbourne beat us without papi, sharks beat us without Nicho, titans beat us without Brimson, roosters beat us without Joey manu. Other teams have lost key players and won. So, we can’t deploy copium re: Moses out, we got close etc and refs (no matter how warranted) when we completed poorly and can’t defend set on set. Those things should be, and are being, ventilated by a fan base that expected better from a grand finalist.

      2. Longfin Eel

        I the end we know the refs are never going to be on our side, and we are more likely going to be on the receiving end of some bad calls which will cost us points. There are two things we can do to alleviate that: 1. The club formally approaches the NRL to get to the bottom of this; 2. We suck it up and use this as an incentive to play with more passion.

        I know which of the above is more likely to be successful…

      3. Spark

        Poppa I personally like Gols approach here and I reckon he doesn’t deserve the rebuke.
        Whilst there has been some criticism on this site – there is a plethora of fans lining up to blow undeserved smoke up thier ass.
        We could never have a Craig Bellamy or a Wayne Bennett at the Eels because half the pretenders that the club think have a future in the game would be relegated to park football where they belong.’
        Cue Jack Nicholson- “Truth, you can’t handle the truth”
        Referee performance- yeah it was poor but we damn well deserve it.
        “It was always going to be harder without Moses “ – yeah there’s another excuse.
        Our defence is woeful and has been for years.
        Why hasn’t it been fixed ???
        We made the GF with a poor defensive record – it was an aberration and unfortunately it was probably the worst thing that could have happened to us.
        We finish badly this year and BA will pump out the excuses and the inept board will ride the train until the steam well and truly runs out.
        Perhaps what we require at the Eels is accountability?
        Stop blaming everyone else and get a coach that demands absolute performance and have consequences instead of being the players best mate.
        Perhaps when we do this we may find that the referees will suddenly treat us better.

      4. Anonymous

        Junior was lucky to get a D. A D minus would be generous. Someone has to remind him he is a prop not a 5/8

      5. John Eel

        Agree with your comments on Penisini. I thought he was good and having a great year. The rest of the gradings I am pretty much OK with.

        What did you think of the suggestion above about Gutho filling in at 9. He has been used to do that before.

        1. Poppa

          Do we need to fill in at 9? The Hodgson experiment (I originally rated it higher than that and I am disappointed for him) has failed but Hands has been a great find. Along with Wiremu, Cartwright has measured up as a genuine bench player, Doorey has a lot of potential, Penisi is going to another level, and we have some good juniors to look at. I am encouraged by that as it seems we are never going to buy the players we want. The player we needed to give us some mongrel and old fashioned in your face was essentially Hodgson, didn’t work. No blame, shit happens.

          I am trying to stay positive and that’s why I disagree with Gols ratings and comments, If I was an outsider looking in I would gather from him that they are not trying. I see no evidence of that only the mental problem of maybe not believing in themselves as a team. I think that mental problem stems from a number of variables, including the press, who seemed to write us off before the season even started\, the players we lost (perception) Throw in the bastard of a draw, Darwin. backups off byes and the season looks negative. This fan will stay positive, but still acknowledge we need some fresh input and a more lateral approach from the coach.
          BA is presenting as very stubborn and inflexible, persevering with Dunster after his first match was enough to see he wasn’t ready.

          1. John Eel

            I agree with all that. Even your comment about BA. It is a perception and you never really know but it is easy to come to that conclusion.

            You are right about the media. They canned us in 2022 all the way to the GF. I get that we have very few SOO players in the squad but surely once we reached the GF there was some talent they could identify.

            I am really impressed with Penisini this season. He is playing with a lot of aggression and his carries are good. Needs a good winger outside and plenty of early ball.

          2. Prometheus

            Earlier in the season you gave Wiremu Greig a pasting. Virtually said he was useless. Did your terrific eye for football talent get it wrong. ? Yes.

          3. Poppa

            Yes Promy, I certainly got it wrong, unquestionably. I judged what I saw in front of me and have revised that judgement to what I now see in front of me. Just like I was obviously wrong with Hodgo……My terrific eye for football talent is a statement made by you, never by me….it is always just another opinion. Does that mean you too were wrong LOL.
            I love it when people say “I told you so” what did you tell me Promy, I honestly can’t remember, but it may have been something that made you look stupid. Hope i was right that time.
            Interesting of course that Prometheus was a Titan and a God. Being called just a Poppa would seem to make me some what humble compared to such a being you see representative of yourself.

          4. Prometheus

            I might be a lot things but I try not to criticize emerging talent when they get a fair go within the top talent group. The ability they have might just blossom in top company.

  10. Ron

    This team has zero agility. I use the term agility in a variety of ways. First we have shown that we do not do well when we don’t stick to our familiar routines. For example, when we moved to bubble we went to water whilst other teams adapted and thrived by being in a tight knit group. Another example is our issue with away games. At one stage brad was making us fly out of Sydney on the day of away game as our “professional” players were so incapable of being out of their normal home routine. Another example is grand final week where we don’t go into camp ahead of game!?!? Second I use the term agility in the mental sense. When plan A (run hard and chase the collision, play through middle) doesn’t work we struggle to adapt. Clearly junior and reg were going to be tired after World Cup and needed help in front row not 55 min stints. Further, our cattle this year after player moves wasn’t going to effectively execute the typical forwards oriented game plan of parra last year but we didn’t have the mental agility to adapt our tactics and get bigger wingers to do the grunt work out of back end and/or recruit. Third i use the term agility in the physical sense, our backs have limited speed and agility. Sivo has no pace and can’t change direction quickly, gutho has limited pace and cant change direction quickly and haze is very very limited.

  11. Longfin Eel

    Incredibly we are still only 4 points from 8th spot. As fans we probably mostly think the season is gone, but an optimist would tell you we are only a winning streak away from embedding a top 8 spot.

    To do that however will need a lot more commitment from the players. We are a long way off where we need to be mentally, and that is the hardest challenge to overcome. I don’t think there are any easy solutions to that other than the senior players putting in massive efforts over the coming weeks to show the team what is required. It seems that the club is giving excuses each week why we can’t get the win and telling ourselves are are still on track. That is a recipe for disaster.

  12. Mark Camman

    I didn’t watch the game but that seems like a pretty accurate summary
    Liked your comment about Hodgson. Does anyone have the stats for Parra with Hodgson on the the field in terms of points scored and conceded compared with points scored and conceded when he is off the field. I think that might be interesting!

  13. Luke Winley

    If we’re gonna go down by making mistakes, at least play some bloody football. We are playing far too conservatively with ball in hand. You’re not gonna tire the defence out early if they know you’re not gonna pass the ball around
    And if I see another bloke standing behind the ruck, not ready for an offload, I don’t know what I’ll do.

  14. MickB

    I must admit I don’t understand Juniors form. Admittedly I’ve never lived a day in the life of his body (or anything close to similar for a gigantic human) but how hard is it to run straight and hold onto the ball without doing anything stupid all that often? I mean he’s 10% bigger than almost every player he comes up against. Ditto for Makatoa minus some of the overwhelming size advantage.

    I’ved liked what I’ve seen from Wiremu Grieg as many of others have as well. It just seems to have come down to want and desire to perform.

    You could probably play the same analogy in a different way for Brown and Simonsson. Simonsson hasn’t done anything particular spectacular except run hard and not have too many brain explosions. Last week Brown just wanted the ball and did a lot of running. There weren’t fancy chip kicks, flick passes etc that are high risk, high reward. It was just using his athletic ability to out-muscle in tackles, try to get his nose through the defensive line etc.

    Having written all of that, too many of our players, too often are seem like they are waiting for the game to come to them. By comparison, Gutho has had a couple of less than stellar performances, but they’ve come off the back of poor decision and execution at moments – at least he’s always got his head in the game.

    Anyway onto next week. Souths are due a loss, we are due a turn around. Maybe the footy gods will look kindly on us and we turn it around.

  15. Johnno

    I actually believe we have the team to win the comp, we just havnt got the team balance right yet. The timing of interchanges especially, Hodgson and hands need to be better. Doorey was making great progress I thought before he was dropped, Murchie from memory was a centre, and has good defencive capabilities, so Simmonson could go to the wing instead of Dunster. To me its about getting the balance right and interchange timing. Call me mad if you like.

    1. John Eel

      He is regularly left holding the ball with nobody following him through. It is part of dominating the Middle

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