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Thirteen years on from their last preliminary final appearance, the Eels head north to face a Cowboys side out to continue their fairytale run in 2022, which has seen them jump from 15th place last year to now be one win away from the Grand Final. 

North Queensland will be playing a finals match at Queensland Country Bank Stadium for the first time since it was opened in 2020, and should be refreshed from the week off they earned by beating the Sharks in golden point back in Finals Week 1. 

Parramatta meanwhile reignited hopes of their 36-year Premiership drought finally coming to an end when they demolished the Raiders 40-4 in a one-sided semi-final at CommBank Stadium and they are looking to make it through to a decider for the first time since 2009. 

In their only prior meeting this season the Cowboys ran out 35-4 winners over the Eels, in what was a Parramatta home game in Darwin.

Match Highlights: Eels v Raiders

The Rundown

Team news

Cowboys: The Cowboys are 1-17 with no late changes on game day. Having had the luxury of sitting out Finals Week 2, North Queensland have named the same 17 who got the job done in the opening week of the play-offs against the Sharks. Jamayne Taunoa-Brown is 18th Man.

Eels: A switch an hour before kick-off with Marata Niukore moving into the starting side at lock and Ryan Matterson going to the bench. Bryce Cartwright has been recalled for his first game in a month, taking over from Makahesi Makatoa who is 18th Man. Centre Tom Opacic has been ruled out with a hamstring injury, with Bailey Simonsson named in the centres as his replacement. He could swap with Waqa Blake on game day, however, with the former Raider more accustomed to the wing. 

Team Lists


  • Fullback for Cowboys is number 1 Scott Drinkwater
    Fullback for Eels is number 1 Clinton Gutherson
  • Winger for Cowboys is number 2 Kyle Feldt
    Winger for Eels is number 2 Maika Sivo
  • Centre for Cowboys is number 3 Valentine Holmes
    Centre for Eels is number 3 Will Penisini
  • Centre for Cowboys is number 4 Peta Hiku
    Centre for Eels is number 19 Bailey Simonsson
  • Winger for Cowboys is number 5 Murray Taulagi
    Winger for Eels is number 5 Waqa Blake
  • Five-Eighth for Cowboys is number 6 Tom Dearden
    Five-Eighth for Eels is number 6 Dylan Brown
  • Halfback for Cowboys is number 7 Chad Townsend
    Halfback for Eels is number 7 Mitchell Moses


  • Prop for Cowboys is number 8 Jordan McLean
    Prop for Eels is number 8 Reagan Campbell-Gillard
  • Hooker for Cowboys is number 9 Reece Robson
    Hooker for Eels is number 9 Reed Mahoney
  • Prop for Cowboys is number 10 Reuben Cotter
    Prop for Eels is number 10 Junior Paulo
  • 2nd Row for Cowboys is number 11 Tom Gilbert
    2nd Row for Eels is number 11 Shaun Lane
  • 2nd Row for Cowboys is number 12 Jeremiah Nanai
    2nd Row for Eels is number 12 Isaiah Papali'i
  • Lock for Cowboys is number 13 Jason Taumalolo
    Lock for Eels is number 17 Marata Niukore


  • Interchange for Cowboys is number 14 Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow
    Interchange for Eels is number 13 Ryan Matterson
  • Interchange for Cowboys is number 15 Luciano Leilua
    Interchange for Eels is number 14 Bryce Cartwright
  • Interchange for Cowboys is number 16 Coen Hess
    Interchange for Eels is number 15 Jake Arthur
  • Interchange for Cowboys is number 17 Griffin Neame
    Interchange for Eels is number 16 Oregon Kaufusi


  • Replacement for Cowboys is number 18 Jamayne Taunoa-Brown
    Replacement for Eels is number 18 Makahesi Makatoa

Match Officials

  • Referee: Grant Atkins
  • Touch Judge: Dave Munro
  • Senior Review Official: Adam Gee

Last updated:

Key Match-ups

Chad Townsend v Mitchell Moses

While their styles are very different, the performance of these two men will go a long way to deciding how their team is able to build pressure, and ultimately score points. Townsend is the veteran head in an otherwise fairly green Cowboys side, who has been here before and knows what it takes to win a Premiership. While he is likely to pull the strings for others around him, Moses - who is at a different stage in his career - has the ability to make more happen on his own, as he did last week with some moments of brilliance which included a try and a couple of line-break assists. The pair both sit in the top five for try assists, total kicks and kick metres this year. 

Jason Taumalolo v Isaiah Papali'i

While it's not a direct positional matchup, with Taumalolo in the middle and Papali'i on an edge, they are the two key strike weapons for their respective sides in the pack. Both are able capable of producing dynamic plays and finding their way to the line, as Taumalolo showed in Finals Week 1 with his late try to force golden point. The Tongan enforcer was huge in his 82 minutes on the field in that game, running for 270 metres and busting through eight tackles. Papali'i meanwhile has been arguably the best second-rower in the NRL this year, averaging 141 metres and 3.5 tackle busts per game. Against the Raiders last week he ran for more metres than any other forward on the park (232) and troubled Canberra whenever he popped up for a carry. 

Moses shows a clean pair of heels

Stat Attack

In several of the key metrics that go into deciding a game, these two sides can hardly be split this year. Parramatta's 1,716 average metres gained per game this year is second-best in the competition, one spot ahead of the Cowboys who average 1,698. In terms of completing sets, the Cowboys do so at an average rate of 77.6 percent, again placing them directly behind the Eels, who average 79.7 percent set completion this season. There is very little to separate them in attack either, with North Queensland scoring 4.4 tries per game on average and Parramatta 4.2. If those numbers are anything to go by, we're in for a thriller on Friday night. 

Acknowledgement of Country

Parramatta Eels respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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