Parramatta Eels Supporters Website
Parramatta have been thumped by the Cowboys at Dairy Farmers Stadium, going down 42 to six in what was one of the side's worst performances for some time.
The Eels were forced to make a late change with Fuifui Moimoi withdrawing with a knee injury and his place being taken by second rower Patrick O'Hanlon. Worse news for the Eels was the wet conditions, which had settled in over Townsville.
The Eels have a disgraceful record in the wet, which for a side that has attempted to build its foundation around a basic, controlled style of game is an awful misnomer. What the Eels would require tonight, was not only to hold the ball and defend their line, but also to manufacture enough points without their main strike weapon Jarryd Hayne to outscore a side that contained Johnathan Thurston and Matty Bowen.
As it turned out, Parramatta would achieve none of those objectives in the first 40 minutes. They started brightly enough, but some poor handling errors when in prime position meant they were never a decent chance of converting pressure into points. Whereas, North Queensland in their first attacking position came up with a try on 16 points when the Eels defence followed Thurston, only for dummy half Aaron Payne to instead pick out Matt Scott who crashed over for the try.
The Eels had been on the wrong side of some pretty poor decisions, for me, in the first 20 minutes but when Ash Graham clearly lost control of a ball he was attempted to ground, having easily stepped past former team mate Luke Burt, it was a pretty good indicator that this wasn't going to be Parramatta's night. Thurston missed this conversion leaving the Cowboys up ten to nil.
Then Jason Taumalolo, the player Parramatta had pretty aggressively attempted to recruit was unleashed on the Eels - or more specifically Ben Roberts. Parramatta's recruitment team might be thinking they should have thrown a few extra dollars at the hulking second rower as he simply blew the Eels off the park in the space of five minutes. In a try that was near identical to the one that big centre Konrad Hurrell scored last week, Taumalolo crashed through Robert's attempted tackle and scored as simply as you could like. Only three minutes later, Roberts would have been feeling a sense of deja vu with Taumalolo again breaking his attempted tackle before setting Graham loose on his outside for the fourth try.
The Eels were looking a shambles at this point. Chris Sandow attempted an intercept which let the Cowboys break free down their left side and Thurston eventually kicked ahead for his supports with Matt Bowen winning the chase the ball, with three of his team mates ahead of the nearest Eels chase. That had the score 26 to nil at half-time, and quite frankly the Eels were lucky to hold it to that number as Thurston went close in the final minute.
In the second half, Parramatta demonstrated much better ball control and they had the better of the early minutes. Ben Roberts had a try disallowed and then Chris Sandow got the defence off-balance passing inside to Pat O'Hanlon who beat the fullback to cross for his first NRL try.
That was as good as it got for Parramatta, though. Kane Linnett scored after the Cowboys took advantage of some lazy defence with some clever passing. Thurston failed to convert leaving the score at 30 to six.
Ash Graham finally got his hat-trick when hooker James Segeyaro chipped perfectly for the winger and this time Thurston landed the sideline conversion, making it 36 to six. And the Segeyaro set up the final try with an inside ball to Gavin Cooper.
There really wasn't much to like about Parramatta's performance. They made life hard for themselves with dreadful handling mistakes and then their defence wasn't up to compensating for that lack of ball control. They should be the basics that Stephen Kearney would have expected his troops to have gotten right by now.