The Dyldam Parramatta Eels have been defeated after a second half comeback by the North Queensland Cowboys 36-30, at Pirtek Stadium in their Monday night Queen’s Birthday clash.
The Eels came out firing and had an outstanding first half and they were first on the board in the third minute when Brad Takairangi made a break up the field. Corey Norman was in support and was able to get past Cowboys captain Jonathan Thurston to score under the posts after his 30m effort.
Chris Sandow successfully converted to put the Eels 6-0 ahead after just five minutes of play.
Minutes later the Eels were awarded a penalty right in front of the posts and chose to take the two points, extending their lead to 8-0.
The Eels continued to mount pressure, with some great goal line defence from Takairangi, forcing the Cowboys to drop the ball and hand over possession.
With possession in their favour, the Eels were in again in the 21st minute, starting from Chris Sandow getting the ball away to Corey Norman before quick hands from Radradra sent Takairangi over in the corner. Chris Sandow converted a difficult kick from the sideline as the Eels extended their lead 14-0.
The Cowboys were finally on the board in the 28th minute when Michael Morgan broke through the home side’s try line defence. Thurston added the extras, taking the score to 14-6 after 30 minutes of play.
The visitors looked to be in again when Thurston put up a towering bomb, but fullback Reece Robinson was under it and sent the Eels back on the attack.
A penalty to the home side put the Eels in great attacking position and the Blue and Gold looked sharp as they ran the ball into the opposition 20m. Corey Norman was instrumental again, with a short ball to Manu Ma’u who went flying through the defence and crossed for Parramatta’s third try of the night. Sandow continued his kicking streak and the Eels led 20-6 after 35 minutes.
The kicking game of the halves started to have a major impact on the game, with Chris Sandow kicking down the field and leading the chase followed by his teammates, the Cowboys were forced to start their set five metres out.
This proved vital when minutes later when Sandow put a huge hit on Thurston, forcing him to lose the ball just short of the halfway line as the crowd erupted. This led to the Eels scoring again, when Reece Robinson threw a cut out ball to his winger Semi Radradra who scored his first of the night just before the break and the Eels taking a 24-6 lead into halftime.
The momentum with the home side continued at the start of the second half. The Eels scored a length of the field try as Takairangi ran 70 metres down the sideline before throwing the ball in field to Reece Robinson who picked it up and put Semi Radradra away, finding the line for the second time. The lead extended to 28-6 after 48 minutes.
A charge down in the middle of the field led to a foot race between the two captains, and as the Eels regained possession, their attacking set led to another penalty. The Eels chose to kick for goal to further extend their lead, 30-6 after 53 minutes.
After losing the ball on the first tackle, the Eels were unable to hold out the Cowboys attack and winger Matthew Wright scored in the 57th minute. Thurston added the two, taking the score to 30-12.
The floodgates opened as the Cowboys started to mount some pressure and were in again in the 60th minute when Thurston put a grubber kick in for Gavin Cooper. Thurston converted to make it a 12-point ball game.
With 16 minutes remaining, the visitors put another try on the board with Gavin Cooper in for his second.
The next set the Cowboys were in again, after a bomb from Thurston was lost by Hopoate and regained by Cooper who went over for a hat trick in the space of ten minutes. A successful conversion by Thurston and the score was levelled up 30-30 with 12 minutes remaining.
The Cowboys took the lead for the first time of the game when Lachlan Coote put a kick away for Kane Linnett to score out wide for a converted try.
It got worse for the Eels when captain Tim Mannah was taken off the field in a medicab in the 70th minute after some heavy contact in a tackle.
It was an arm wrestle in the last 10 minutes, with both sides unable to find the try line again. The Cowboys stealing the win, 36-30.
Eels 30: (Tries - Radradra 2, Norman, Takairangi, Ma’u. Goals Sandow 5/7)
Cowboys 36 (Tries – Cooper 3, Morgan, Wright, Linnett. Goals. Thurston 6/6)