The Cumberland Throw

Post Game Grades – Round 13 vs Cowboys


Parramatta Eels 24

Cowboys 16

It wasn’t pretty, easy or a lot of fun to watch, but this was a win the Parramatta Eels needed. I felt like the Eels were playing with their food for much of the contest, in control but not putting the Cowboys away and setting up a tense finish. Then Mitchell Moses did his thing and let us relax for at least two minutes of game time. 

If you remove the stupidity of bye points, the Eels now sit within the top eight. 13 teams sit on five, six or seven wins this year, with Parramatta smack in the middle of that group and holding one of the better points differentials. The table is set for a finals footy feast if the Eels are good enough, and that’s a decent place to be for a side that started the year with one win from five.

New recruit Joe Ofahengaue’s Eels debut lasted just ten minutes before succumbing to a calf injury, while Josh Hodgson also got banged up. Any more injuries in the pack and we’ll be getting NSW Cup coach Nathan Cayless sized up for jersey.

Michael Jennings may be persona non grata in Eels territory after his PED use left us naming a rookie to debut in a semi final less than 24 hours from kickoff, but the feats on the field of one Will Penisini are starting to resemble the disgraced Australian centre’s best. He’s not far off becoming one of those players that brings fans to their feet every time he gets the ball with some room to move. If that’s not the definition of X-factor, what is?

For the numbers inclined:

Possession: Eels 52%, Cowboys 48%
Completions: Eels 33/44 (75%), Cowboys 36/43 (83%)
Running metres: Eels 2,073, Cowboys 1,787
Post contact metres: Eels 547, Cowboys 477
Line breaks: Eels 8, Cowboys 5
Tackle breaks: Eels 29, Cowboys 32
Offloads: Eels 5, Cowboys 9
Tackles: Eels 363, Cowboys 391
Errors: Eels 14, Cowboys 9
Penalties conceded: Eels 4, Cowboys 2
Ruck infringements: Eels 0, Cowboys 2

Back-to-back MVP for Dylbags, as the Dylan Brown emergence continues at rapid pace after, I don’t want to say a slow start, but an understated beginning to season 2023. Holding that ball up for Wiremu Greig to score was the kind of patient play you expect of veteran halves, and that try-saving tackle on Chad Townsend was a rare effort, how convincingly he wrapped up the Cowboys half did not do justice to how difficult and unlikely a play it was. You da MVP, Dylan.





Clint Gutherson

1 – Fullback

It wasn’t a showpiece game for the King, but he led all Eels in metres and several times made the toughest carry of an exit set, looking like Tom Trbojevic taking powerful runs on the fourth to give his kickers the space they need. It was a crucial effort as the Eels played a bit of Panther-ball to take the pressure off their under-strength pack.


Maika Sivo

2 – Left Wing

Sivo sauntered his way to 200 running metres, many on kick returns as the Cowboys tested him in the air and found him rock solid. Sivo’s defensive efforts stood out as a bit ordinary, particularly that sort of attempted intercept, and may he never try an in-and-away again when he can just steamroll somebody. 


Will Penisini

3 – Right Centre

While he didn’t join in the hard work to the extent of his fellow outside backs, Will Penisini was an impact weapon that tore the Cowboys up with every touch of the ball. Eight tackle breaks, two line break assists, one for a try, and a gasp of anticipation from the crowd every time he got the ball. 


Bailey Simonsson

4 – Left Centre

Very similar attacking numbers to Will Penisini for our reformed centre Bailey Simonsson, though he needed nearly twice as many carries to reach them. Four errors are too many, but I’m still happy that we’ve found a way to get the best out of Bailey.


Sean Russell

5 – Right Wing

Sean Russell proved himself adept at the hard slog, playing a solid and safe game on the wing. That this alone is worth a B says a lot about the torment Eels fans have taken from their right side flanker in recent years.


Dylan Brown

6 – Five Eighth

I have to admit, a few years ago I wondered what the fuss was about Dylan Brown. Yeah, his defensive skill was elite for his age, but he just didn’t do a lot. That all sounds pretty dumb now, doesn’t it? Not all 18 year olds coming into first grade are standouts straight away, but now he’s about to hit 100 first grade games just after his 23rd birthday and he’s one of the best five eighths in the competition. 


Mitchell Moses

7 – Halfback

Solid performance from Moses here, including icing the match with a beautiful solo effort. His balance with Dylan was nice, both are working well together and picking their moments, and the strength of their combination is what I am pinning any Parramatta premiership hopes to for the remainder of 2023.


Wiremu Greig

8 – Front Row

I’d forgotten this was a revenge game for big Wiremu, and he duly celebrated with a powerful try. Two line breaks, solid defence and 145 tough metres, Greig looked every bit a forward leader out there, not bad for a guy with 15 first grade games to his name.


Josh Hodgson

9 – Hooker

Solid from Hodgson, who got his running game out a couple of times before he took an early shower due to injury. He was responsible for half of the penalties the Eels conceded today, though at least one was a bit rich, but he defended well and looked solid. Maybe there is some bite left in the old dog yet.


Joe Ofahengaue

10 – Front Row

Not enough to go on for Joe Ofahengaue in his Eels debut, which lasted ten minutes and two runs. He’s still got plenty of time to be a strong contributor this year, but it was an inauspicious start.


Bryce Cartwright

11 – Second Row

Big defensive effort for Bryce Cartwright, who put away the flashy football and got a job done. I doubt this kind of effort was in the Carty Party of a couple of years ago, this was a mature performance and exactly what the side needed this week.


Matt Doorey

12 – Second Row

Good metres and solid defence from the 80 minutes Matt Doorey played, though the attacking feast I’d hoped for on the edge with Mitchell Moses didn’t quite develop. Still, he didn’t let anybody down.


J’maine Hopgood

13 – Lock

Hard slogging for Hopgood, who, as the workhorse in this pack, knew he was in for a big night and just gritted teeth and got it done. 21 runs at what isn’t exactly a top clip of 7.5 metres per carry, a couple of offloads and 45 tackles, like many this week he gave the team what it needed and not a heap more.


Ofahiki Ogden

14 – Interchange

Some of his carries were nice, but as a relief prop you can’t be dropping the ball twice in your 30 minute stint. The bad play the ball was especially egregious seeing it has been a point of crackdown all season long.


Makahesi Makatoa

17 – Interchange

Exactly the kind of effort Makahesi Makatoa is built for: big minutes off the bench when an early injury throws out rotations and plans. He isn’t high impact, but he is reliable.


Luca Moretti

16 – Interchange

A classic Brad Arthur debut stint of 17 minutes for Luca Moretti, who looked solid but made a basic, unnecessary mistake in making contact with the kicker. Yeah there was nothing in it, but when it is a point of referee focus you just can’t give a half an opportunity to milk a penalty by giving a player a pointless tap on the shoulder.


Brendan Hands

15 – Interchange

Brendan Hands unleashed his running game this week, and it was a nice wrinkle to his already impressive set of skills. If Hodgson does miss any time due to injury, I doubt many Eels fans will be too concerned about Hands stepping in.

This was the kind of win that, come the end of the season, you’ll have absolutely no memory of what happened in the game. The Eels came in, faced some adversity, scared us all a little bit but ultimately got the job done. It wasn’t a pretty game, the ruck was at times brutal to watch. The Cowboys were there to play spoiler and did so with abandon as a near rookie referee was tested and found unwilling to blow the whistle. Still, it was a win.

An ugly win beats an impressive loss any day of the week, especially on a chilly Friday night during an Origin round. The Eels enter their bye on the fringe of the top eight, with a chance to get healthy and refresh for what will undoubtedly be a chaotic final few months of the season. We’ve got unexpected sides in the top eight, anticipated contenders that are struggling, and I don’t know about you guys but I haven’t managed to tip better than 6/8 all season long. Upsets are in the air every week.

On a sombre note, this week saw it made known the extent of the injuries suffered by former Eels coach Daniel Anderson in an accident at the end of 2022. There is a fundraiser set up to support Anderson, which you can donate to here: 

Until next time, stay slippery Eels fans.


Stats and images provided by NRL / Eels media


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28 thoughts on “Post Game Grades – Round 13 vs Cowboys

  1. Zero58

    The words true Grit comes to mind. The Cowboys were down on numbers but wanted to play for pride after the previous weeks effort. Parra hanged tough – Jack Gibson would have been proud. I thought the Emu might have snared mvp because that was his best game. I must say he reminds me of Herman Hamilton from North Sydney. Almost the same style.
    Will someone send a message to Sivo and tell him it’s okay to run really hard at the opposition. I think Bailey runs harder than Sivo. Did I hear correctly they are waiting for Waqa to return from injury. I hope not.
    Gutsy win – this break for two is a positive and a negative. Some injured players might be back but Parra never backs up well after a bye break. They haven’t won a lot of games but they haven’t tossed in the towel. Parra get their best 17 back and those ahead will be looking behind.
    I have been seriously thinking of not watching anymore football essentially because the referees decide the outcome of the game. Kliens game with Souths was the best referee performance I have seen from him ever with Parra. Friday night wasn’t too bad but that penalty for Townsend was stupid. And what happened it nearly decided the outcome of the game. I have been following Parra for 65 years and this year the referees are the worst I have witnessed for decades. I go back Greg Hartley who was a prima Donna and even Keith Page had some really bad games but no where near as bad as they are today. Someone needs an enema!!

      1. BDon

        Cook was a shocker in that GF. Blatant bias. And he was employed by the Dragons’ sponsor. Netflix could have a look at a series.

          1. Parra Pete

            The referee ‘sons’ were bad – Fred Erick’son’ and Les Samuel’son’…I was probably more ‘one-eyed’ in those days..but I used to dread matches with those blokes involved in the ‘middle’..Mellowed a lot more these days though…Channel my dislike to the commentators like Dan Ginnane, Gus “know it all” Gould…must be getting older….lol….

    1. Joe Vass

      Hartley without question the worst. Thought he was a bigger star than the players and always courted controversy. I was at Cumberland Oval around 1971 when Keith Page was the referee (I think against Easts) and the ground was pelted with beer cans whilst the chant of “Kill the Ref” went up. Nothing like a well lubricated crowd on the hill at Cumberland.

      1. Zero58

        I was there that day and joined the crowd on the field in silent protest.
        I looked up at Rex Mossop who was close to tears because of what unfolded. It was East and Keith Page what a rat. I just of Bill Harrigan when put a quarter of Parra in the bin against Newcastle who were never going to win until Harrigan went berserk with a brain explosion. Still can’t recall Ericson.

      1. Joe Vass

        Gomersall was a referee in the Queensland country and got the job over Eddie Ward who made the mistake of answering when asked by Senator Ron McAuliffe (Head of QRL) how he would referee he said “impartially”. The correct answer (apparently) was “in the best interests of Queensland”. Gomersall got the job.

  2. Glenn

    Said with about go, with the game seemly well in hand, that it wouldn’t be Parra unless some drama happened to give us supporters heart palpitations. And so it eventuated but I wish it didn’t happen so frequently.

  3. Prometheus

    Wiremu is super impressive. Want’s involvement on both defence and attack. Keith Page was another ref who caused a few near riots at Cumberland.

  4. BDon

    Good grades Gol.Leaving aside the soft push on the shoulder of Townsend, Moretti was better than B-. There was something about his energy that caught the eye.

  5. pete

    Great read Gol.

    Always good after a win. No ‘F’s’ for the rest of the year I hope…

    Townsend took a dive for that penalty on Moretti. Moretti barely touched him but Townsend knew to make it look dramatic. The Referee obliged with the penalty. If that was Origin he would never Ref again…But it just invited him to even up the game. Luckily Moses closed it out.

    Dylbags and Wiremu were great.
    Impressive runs by Moretti has potential.

    Best game from our backs collectively in years. All ran over 100m.

    Sivo slow but still made 200m. Maybe hes injured but If you look at his runs 2 years ago he lacks punch now. His defence on Feldts 2 tries was non existent.

    Well done to BA on his bench and getting the most out of our players.

  6. !0 Year Member

    We did well with a pack which haven’t played together in parra colours before. Credit to BA.
    I was there… In the corner…. Dreading the try about to be scored….. Then like a jack in the box….. Dylan cuts him down… What a tackle… What desire….. This kid is special. The team lifted after this effort…… Let’s add Dylan to X factor with Will….. Go parra

  7. Mr controversy aka rev

    I think bailey has improved out of site. His a centre n brad should never move him to wing.

    On sivo was a big fan of his but of late his got very slack at returning the ball with aggressive fortitude.
    Am happy for sivo to see the exit door or reserve grade. What a lazy player. Nof even close to being in the semi zone.

  8. N. SENADA

    Just on Sivo’s “saunter…” it is terribly frustrating to witness a powerfully built winger so unenthusiastically meet the defence. Imagine if Sivo’s carries had the intent of Bailey Simonsson’s and had the tackle resentment and deadly urgency of Michael Hancock. I just can’t understand it. Surely Brad Arthur would be yelling at him ” for God’s sake Maika, RUN at ’em. RUN”

    1. John Eel

      I heard the comment during the presser but I didn’t take it to mean that he would be straight in as soon as he is fit.

      I think that Simonson has done enough to cement his position at left centre for now. Putting Blake at right wing in place of Russell would be inviting other teams to pound him with bombs.

      The high kicks aimed at him is what caused him to get a case of the yips in the first place.

      1. pete

        Agree John
        As you say Simmonson has cemented his spot. Russell is better than Waqa on the wing.
        Couldn’t see Waqa forcing his way back any time soon. He’d have to start in Cup and be absolutely killing it before considered.

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