Eels into their first grand final since 2009 with a prelim final thriller

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North Queensland Cowboys v Parramatta Eels

The Parramatta Eels are the first side into the 2022 NRL Telstra Premiership Grand Final with a nail-biting four point victory over the North Queensland Cowboys in Townsville tonight.

It was a fast and furious start to the game, which was played in warm and humid conditions in Townsville which was more suited to the home side. But the visitors got the early rub of the green when an almost certain forward pass from Mitch Moses was called by everyone live, except the officials. From there, Parramatta played on and Marata Niukore drew in the fullback and Will Penisini crossed for the first try.

Parramatta's lead was short lived, and it was all their own doing. Off the back of a short dropout, Rueben Cotter went straight between Reed Mahoney and Niukore and crashes over to get the Cowboys back in it. There was more controversy when Jason Taumalolo was dispatched to the sin-bin for direct shoulder contact to the head of Isaiah Papali'i.

Parramatta took full advantage of the extra man when Reagan Campbell-Gillard crashed over after Chad Townsend jammed in to create a yawning gap and the enforcer retook the lead for the visitors. The Eels were once again their own worst enemy when Moses kicked two consecutive bombs out on the full and Waqa Blake went back to his form of two weeks ago dropping bombs for fun.

 North Queensland reduced the gap when Luciano Leilua charged over the top of Penisini to reduce the gap to two. A late penalty for ruck interference gave Val Holmes a gift two points to go into the sheds all locked up at 12-12.

The second half started like the first ended, an illegal strip from Papali'I gave Holmes a gift two points from in front and the Cowboys had their first lead of the night. Two minutes later, it was a great Griffin Neame offload to Tom Dearden who was taken short of the line. Off the next play it was a lovely ball to Drinkwater who found Holmes who in turn got it onto Murray Taulagi to cross and more importantly, a two possession lead.

But, then the twists continued to come. Parramatta had limited possession, but they took advantage off a Cowboys mistake. It was an unlikely double for RCG when Jordan McLean and Jason Taumalolo had a horrific defensive relapse and the Eels veteran forward got try number two. Moses converted to give his side every chance as they trailed by just two points. Moses missed a gift penalty goal, but off the set post points, a clever short-side raid by Reed Mahoney allowed Maika Sivo to score and put the Eels back front and with Moses redeeming himself, the Eels had a four point lead.

North Queensland threw everything at the Eels and they were denied a try when Kyle Feldt stepped on the sideline. Parramatta also withstood a large defensive stand in the final ten minutes of play to seal their place in this season's Grand Final. North Queensland are far from disgraced, a season where many pundits had egg on their face predicting them to be competition cellar-dwellers. Todd Payten can build upon this for seasons to come. But, the party is beginning for the Eels as they prepare for their first premiership decider in 13 years.

North Queensland Cowboys 20 - Parramatta Eels 24

Venue: Queensland Country Bank Stadium, Townsville
Crowd: 25372
Halftime Score: North Queensland Cowboys 12 Parramatta Eels 12 Players of the Match:
3 points - Shaun Lane
2 points - Reagan Campbell-Gillard
1 points - Reuben Cotter

Tries: Reuben Cotter, Luciano Leilua, Murray Taulagi
Field Goals:
Two Point Field Goals:
Conversions: Valentine Holmes (2/3)
Penalty Goals: Valentine Holmes (2/2)

Tries: Viliami Penisini, Reagan Campbell-Gillard (2), Maika Sivo
Field Goals:
Two Point Field Goals:
Conversions: Mitchell Moses (4/4)
Penalty Goals: Mitchell Moses (0/1)

See how it happened in our Match Centre