The Eels went down to the Cowboys 24-16 on a disappointing night for the Blue & Gold in Townsville.
Parramatta finished with a flurry as Mitchell Moses scored a late double to claw his team back into the contest from a 20-point deficit, but it was too little, too late as the Cowboys came away with the win.
NRL Match Highlights: Cowboys v Eels
The Eels were out enthused by the home side, who had a spring in their step as they moved into the top eight in front of their home crowd.
The result was compounded by a serious injury to Shaun Lane, with the second rower suffering a dislocated elbow in the 53rd minute.
Clint Gutherson was a shining light on a poor Parramatta night, assisting all three tries for the Eels and making 202 running metres.
The Eels’ left edge was under siege during the first half, as the Cowboys scored three tries down that channel.
Peta Hiku opened the Cowboys’ account as he backed up Tom Dearden after the five-eighth broke through on the 40-metre line. Semi Valemei then doubled the hosts’ advantage when he latched onto Scott Drinkwater’s soaring cut-out pass.
The Eels were not prepared to roll over, and took their first opportunity to score as a perfectly executed backline saw Clint Gutherson send Sean Russell over in the corner.
Excellent execution for Russell
The Cowboys dominated the remainder of the first forty, and Valemei strolled over for his second try midway through the half.
Valentine Holmes was sin-binned late in the half for dangerous contact on Mitchell Moses, but the Eels were unable to capitalise on the numerical advantage and the Cowboys took a 16-4 lead to the sheds.
The hosts added two points to their tally via a penalty goal, but the Eels suffered their greatest blow of the match when they lost Shaun Lane to a dislocated elbow.
Drinkwater then delivered a dagger to Parramatta moments later, splitting through the centre of the goal-line defence for North Queensland’s fourth try.
Adding salt to the Eels’ wounds, Ryan Matterson was placed on report for dangerous contact.
The Eels had ample opportunity to hit back, but the Cowboys turned them away time and time again with a desperate show of defence.
Co-captains Clint Gutherson and Junior Paulo combined to conjure Parramatta’s long-awaited second try, which was finished off with Mitchell Moses backing up in support.
Slick play as Moses scores
Parramatta set up an interesting finish soon after as Moses scored a second. Gutherson showed great desperation to find a gap in the Cowboys' defence, and got a pass away for Moses. The halfback toed the football ahead, and won the race for another try.
Moses breathes life into Eels
The Eels had a chance to close the gap even further in the closing minutes, but North Queensland's defence came up trumps once again to secure victory for the hosts.