Parramatta Eels 16
Other results went our way, with the Rabbitohs and Sharks both going down, so the Eels remain in the top eight for another week. I suppose you could find something positive in the commitment and faux comeback after being beaten and battered all game, but I ran out of patience to reward this team for getting close by about round 5.
The Cowboys put in a big effort here and really bashed the Eels, but the big worry for me was how pedestrian the Parramatta attack was made to look by the North Queensland rushing defence. The Cowboys never needed to commit to edge runners of the threat of the halves running, they just waited for Moses to dig into the line and fling it out the back, then buried the receiver. Maybe it was just poorly timed line runs, but maybe it is that opposing sides have figured out the Parramatta attack, as the Titans last week looked very comfortable in handling the wide shifts of the Eels too.
The X factor for Parramatta is how many sub-standard first grade footballers are currently in the side. Daejarn Asi can’t tackle and Waqa Blake is a sorry excuse for a footballer, but beyond that there is just a lot of mediocrity in the three-quarter line and bench forwards. Outside of Moses and Gutherson nobody is creating anything for the Eels to work off, despite the side throwing a ridiculous number of offloads last night. For the numbers inclined:
Possession: Eels 50%, Cowboys 50%
Completions: Eels 28/39 (71%), Cowboys 35/42 (83%)
Run metres: Eels 1,674, Cowboys 1,553
Line breaks: Cowboys 8, Eels 4
Tackle breaks: Cowboys 41, Eels 37
Offloads: Eels 32, Cowboys 6
Errors: Cowboys 10, Eels 12
Penalties conceded: Cowboys 4, Eels 8
Clint Gutherson put on every try we scored, threw eight offloads and ran for 200 metres. In a win I’d be extolling his virtues, in a loss I’m just glad he was there to keep things respectable like. You da MVP, King.
1 – Fullback
It was a great statistical game for Clint Gutherson, but he also let a bench prop convince him to use a challenge which went about as well as expected. You’d think a King would learn to not be so trusting.
20 – Left Wing
I never want to see him in a Parramatta jersey again. We’d be better off playing with 12 than having Waqa Blake out there.
3 – Right Centre
The only outside back in this Eels side that’d I’d feed at the moment.
4 – Left Centre
Those couple of weeks that he wasn’t a pumpkin were nice, but we’re a long way from consistently threatening football from Bailey Simonsson.
5 – Right Wing
He’s fine. He’s just fine. Right now that makes him the second best outside back on our roster. I’d like to aim higher, please.
6 – Five Eighth
You can forgive some rough defence from your halves under fatigue or against big bodies, but getting a great grab on the opposing halfback and falling off in the opening sets? Unacceptable for a first grade footballer. You can also forgive halves for having bad defence if they can put a try on, but I can’t remember a notable attacking play from Daejarn Asi from the last month.
7 – Halfback
Was on the spot for a couple of late tries and he kept trying, but he also missed ten tackles out there. He did make some decent defensive stops, but at some point volume starts to count. His kicking game wasn’t at its best, either.
8 – Front Row
It was hard going for the middles, but watching the Cowboys forwards lining up big shots and imposing their will on the match, you really wished some of the Parramatta forwards would have gone toe-to-toe with them.
9 – Hooker
His tackling is good and his service is fine, but I am looking forward to him getting some help as soon as next week with the arrival of Joey Lussick.
10 – Front Row
This wasn’t a bad game from Junior Paulo, but we needed way more than what we got from the captain.
12 – Second Row
Worked hard, lot of offloads, clean sheet in discipline, Bryce Cartwright is earning that extension.
11 – Second Row
Going off the field with a nasty injury is the only thing that saved Lane from an F grade. There is no excuse for not getting across in cover in the fourth minute of the match, and while Daejarn Asi missed the tackle that led to Dearden opening the floodgates, Lane couldn’t even be bothered to get over and lay a hand on the halfback. Not good enough, and now he’s probably gone for the year.
13 – Lock
Solid game from Hopgood, but solid isn’t getting it done for us right now.
16 – Interchange
Game of football for Andrew Davey, that’s for sure.
14 – Interchange
I like him. Give him more minutes, BA.
15 – Interchange
The first time he tries to offer anything at all with the ball and he not only throws a pass off the ground, he convinces himself and his captain that his arm didn’t touch the ground. Stick to the mediocre running and tackling, at least I can pretend not to notice that.
17 – Interchange
Another classic Ryan Matterson “walking in the background behind a bad line break” on the weak as stadium beer Drinkwater try, but he wasn’t the only one who disgraced himself on that play and he was pretty solid otherwise.
It wasn’t a fatal blow, but we can’t pretend that this was a close game. The Cowboys went down to 12 men and still made defending the Parramatta attack look like a demonstration training exercise for most of the match. They lined up a predictable attack and belted playmakers and runners alike all night long. Then they carved through a weak edge defence like the judiciary through Maika Sivo’s arguments for a downgrade this week.
There’s excuses, sure, but excuses aren’t going to count for much in September if we’re pretending to care about the NFL instead of watching an Eels finals campaign. We don’t need excuses, we need committed defence and strong performances from our best players. Sadly that number of “best players” has dwindled significantly thanks to injury, suspension and an inability to keep their hands to themselves.
Melbourne in Melbourne next week, coming off an embarrassing loss of their own, and of course, it’s a must win. Good luck to us.
Until next time, stay slippery Eels fans.
Stats and images provided by NRL / Eels media