Eels too good for Cowboys in thriller

Parramatta Eels have consigned the North Queensland Cowboys to yet another away loss for season 2014. The Eels won by 2 points, 18-16 in a pulsating 4 tries to 3 victory in front of 10,142 fans at Pirtek Stadium tonight.

The early signs were ominous for the Cowboys, who have been unable to record an away win at all this season, with the Eels making 60 metres on their first set. With the return of Jarryd Hayne, it was slightly surprising the Eels started underdogs with the bookies, even without their in form hooker Nathan Peats, out for the season with injury.

It was Corey Norman who should have put the Eels in front early on but a simple draw and pass proved too much for the pivot. Timmy Mannah was screaming for the pill on the inside and probably dreaming of avoiding the end of season nude run, to no avail. The Eels went over shortly afterwards through Junior Paulo hitting a gap at speed, opening the Eels account. From the next set Ken Edwards busted the defence and offloaded superbly inside to a flying Hayne who drew the fullback Morgan and set the Fijian flyer Semi Radradra free down the left. Things were looking bad for the Cowboys after conceding two tries in two minutes but they battled their way back into the contest through some strong forward play and simple footy which allowed them to score through James Tamou in the 23rd minute. Tamou's try came about from a burst of speed from Morgan who split the Eels defence and put Tamou over next to the posts. From that point it was the Eels with all the pressure, however after bombing two certain tries they finally chalked up their third of the night in the 37th minute with what looked a simple shift through the hands to the right. The Cowboys forgot to count and left the winger Ken Sio unmarked to touch down just inside the right touchline. The Eels went in to the break with a deserved lead 14 points to 6.

Jarryd Hayne stamped his class on the game with a swerving effort from a Pauli Pauli offload in the 42nd minute to give the home side a nice buffer of 12 points. Hayne really showed Morgan up for pace and swerve though he's showed better players than Morgan up throughout the years, and really looks to be almost back to his freak 2009 form. The ensuing quarter of the game was a mixture of end to end play and silly errors from both sides, however with the Cowboys trailing by two converted tries the mistakes hurt away side more. In the 64th minute the Cowboys scored through Antonio Winterstein who latched onto a Morgan long ball to touch down in the left corner. Thurston missed the conversion, meaning the Cowboys needed to score twice. In a frantic final 15 minutes the Cowboys ended up with a lot of ball yet the Eels held firm until the 78th minute when Morgan strolled through a gap. The Cowboys had one more shot and it was that man Morgan again with a break on the last play of the game with Thurston in support but Morgan's offload went forward and Hayne (of course - who else?) gleefully accepted the loose ball to ice the game.

So, the resurgent Eels march on in 2014, and will fancy their chances against the in-form Bulldogs at ANZ Stadium next week, while the Cowboys will head back North sans two competition points but with their heads held high and looking forward to the bye.  

Match Details
Parramatta Eels 18 North Queensland Cowboys 16
Venue: Pirtek Stadium
Crowd: 10142
Halftime Score: Parramatta Eels 14 North Queensland Cowboys 6 Players of the Match:
3 points - Jarryd Hayne
2 points - Johnathan Thurston
1 point - Michael Morgan

Tries: Junior Paulo, Semi Radradra, Ken Sio, Jarryd Hayne
Field Goals:
Conversions: Chris Sandow (1/4)
Penalty Goals:

Tries: James Tamou, Antonio Winterstein, Michael Morgan
Field Goals:
Conversions: Johnathan Thurston (2/3)
Penalty Goals: Live Commentary

A very good evening to you wherever you may be on this fine Winter evening. Tonight we are at Pirtek Stadium, Parramatta country. Tonight the home side welcomes the boys from North Queensland, the Cowboys. In another oddity of this 2014 draw, the Eels and Cowboys have already faced off, up in Townsville just over a month ago. The home side was way too good for the Eels then and will look to carry that dominance into this game. The Eels in Sydney and with their talisman, Jarryd will be a much trickier proposition for the Cows. Can JT inspire them or will the Hayne Plane keep up it's trail of destruction and send the North Queenslanders home sore and sorry. Only time will tell of course, and I for one can't wait to see these two go hammer and tong at each other. By the way, I'm Luke Wenitong and I'll be with you until full time. I'll be back shortly with any team changes.

TEAMS: Both sides are 1-17 as per program.

13 degrees at Pirtek Stadium and looks a typical early Winter night in Sydney to be honest. Let's hope both sides can bring it!!

Cowboys on the field. Just waiting for the home side.

And J. Hayne leads the Eels onto the park. Cowboys to kick off.

1: Thurston kicks off and we're underway at Pirtek.

2: Lovely and controlled set of six from the Eels first up. 55 metres and a Sandow kick finds touch 10 metres from the Cowboys line.

4: Penalty. Cowboys. Sandow bombed it, Hayne took fullback Michael Morgan out without looking at the ball.

6: Cowboys caught with the ball on the last. Handover. Eels working it out of their own territory.

9: Paulo put Corey Norman through a gap and Norman only had to draw and pass to Timmy Mannah. He failed the test and knocks on. But it's ruled a dropout to the Cowboys.

Scored by Junior Paulo. Kick to come.

Junior Paulo runs a good line and he can't stopped, touching down just to the left of the uprights.

Conversion attempt by Chris Sandow successful.

Very easy for Sandow.

Scored by Semi Radradra. Kick to come.

WOW. Ken Edwards hits a gap inside his own half, offloads inside to Hayne, who draws Morgan and puts Semi away to score. Quality football that. Poor defence from the Cows.

Conversion attempt by Chris Sandow unsuccessful.

And he hits the post.

Manu Ma'u makes an unforced error.

Manu can't handle the ball from the dummy half. Coach killer after scoring that one.

16: Brent Tate grubbers on the last and drags the Eels rake back into the in goal. Dropout Eels.

17: This time it's Thurston who grubbers and Ken Sio doesn't risk it. Dropout Eels.

19: Forward pass on the last sees a handover and the Eels to hit it up from their own line.

Scored by James Tamou. Kick to come.

Tate offloads to Matthew Wright who offloads inside to Morgan. Morgan clapped on the pace to split the defence and it's an easy draw and pass to put 'Aussie' Jim Tamou over next to the posts.

Conversion attempt by Johnathan Thurston successful.

Easy for JT.

Ray Thompson makes an unforced error.

Ray can't take the kickoff, he lets it bounce, and it bounces over the dead ball line. Dropout Cowboys. Terrible stuff from the Cows.

23: Penalty. Eels. Cowboys strip the ball illegally.

Manu Ma'u makes an unforced error.

A second error from Ma'u who spills a popped ball from Norman. Pressure released on Cows.

28: Cowboys' Ethan Lowe caught on the last down the Eels end. Eels to do the hard yards from their own line.

Antonio Winterstein makes an unforced error.

Poor play the ball from Antonio. He won't get a look in for Brazil in a week or so with that footwork.

31: Willie Tonga goes over in the left corner for the Eels but the Ken Edwards tip on is ruled to have traveled forward.

33: Radrada benefited from a scrappy kick and regather from the Eels, all he had to do was pass to Edwards but he held onto it and it's a handover.

35: Tate finds touch with a wobbly kick. Tate's 3rd kick of the night!!

Michael Morgan makes an unforced error.

A huuuuge bomb from Hayne proves too hot for Morgan to handle. Eels on attack!!

36: Video Ref. Possible Eels try to Ken Sio. On field ref says try.

Scored by Ken Sio. Kick to come.

Simple shift to the right and the Cowboys inexplicably don't number up. Sio did well to plant it just inside the right flag.

Conversion attempt by Chris Sandow unsuccessful.

Sandow fades it left. No goal.

40: Half Time: Parramatta Eels 14 lead North Queensland Cowboys 6. Strange half of football that. Cowboys, if they can sort out their attack may be in with a shot, however the Eels look dangerous from all over the park. Join us in 10 for the second half.

40: Teams jog back out. Kickoff shortly. Eels to kick.

40: And we're back underway at Pirtek.

Scored by Jarryd Hayne. Kick to come.

Sandow to Pauli Pauli who half busts the line and pops a superb ball to Hayne. Hayne runs around Morgan like he wasn't there to score in the corner.

Conversion attempt by Chris Sandow unsuccessful.

Sandow again slices left. He's got to fix the radar or it might bite the Eels later in the game.

46: Double knock on sees the Eels feed a scrum 20 metres from the Cows line.

49: Hearts a flutter all over NSW with Jarryd Hayne looking injured. He plays on though.

49: Apparently all Joey Johns can dream about is a NSW Victory in Game 2. I reckon he must be dreaming about Jarryd Hayne as well the way he has been talking him up during this game.

49: David Gower must have copped a bouncer. He'll bat on however, Gower.

54: Geez the Eels are looking footloose and fancy free tonight. William Hopoate is now throwing no look passes to put people away. Sandow ends with it and he chips for himself. No good though, Cows start the set on half way.

Michael Morgan makes an unforced error.

Morgan can't handle the JT ball. He was eyeing off the defence, who in turn was eyeing off his rib cage.

56: Video Ref. Possible Eels try to Pauli Pauli. On field ref says no try.

56: No Try. Held up.

56: I just watched 'Goodfellas' again the other night, one of the great movies of all time in my opinion. Pauli Pauli sounds like one of the characters from it...

59: Corey Norman busts the Cowboys wide open, but the ball is thrown to ground and Kane Linnett comes up with it for the Cows, who then get a much needed penalty whichem get up the park.

60: Penalty. Cowboys. Corey Norman ruled to have been offside as he grabbed a loose ball on his own line.

61: Ray Thompson went through the gap but Manu Ma'u knocks the ball out. Cowboys needed to score then.

62: Cowboys start a set on half way after a silly Eels offload goes awry.

63: Penalty. Cowboys. In front of the posts for an offside Eels play.

Scored by Antonio Winterstein. Kick to come.

Thurston to Michael Morgan who sums it up quickly and loops it 30 metres to Winterstein in space and he's just good enough to plant it inside the left touchline.

Conversion attempt by Johnathan Thurston unsuccessful.

JT goes left. They needed that the Cows.

66: Will the big Eels forwards tire with all this defence they've been doing of late?

67: Big play from Hayne as he tackles Morgan one on one and rakes it but it's ruled a knock on much to Thurston's disgust.

68: Eels caught on the last with the pill. Cowboys with a chance now.

70: Sandow kicks well on the last to find 45 metres and touch. Turns the Cows forwards around and both sides look out on their feet.

72: HAHAHAHA. JT and Hayne wrestling in the in goal for a minute. Were they serious? Looked like Greek wrestling at the Olympics. Ashton Sims comes in at the end to look like a hard man.

73: And Sims compounds it with a high shot. Sims you silly boy.

73: Well this has turned into a bit of a humdinger.

74: Ray Thompson takes the wrong option down the right touchline, he offloads to no-one in particular. Ells ball on half way.

75: Big play from JT! He had a dropout and found touch. Cowboys scrum feed 20 metres from their own line. Imagine how good the Cowboys would be with another good half! (Actually you could probably say that about most sides).

76: Hayne returns serve. An attacking kick from Thurston is grabbed on the full by Hayne. Could that be the game.

77: Video Ref. Possible Cowboys Try. On field ref says no try.

77: No try!! Winterstein looked to have kicked it but it was dropped apparently.

78: Eels knock on on their own line. Cows with a chance here!!

Scored by Michael Morgan. Kick to come.

Thurston puts Michael Morgan over, can they do it?

Conversion attempt by Johnathan Thurston successful.

And he slots it.

79: Eels regather the kickoff but Hopoate can't handle! Cows have a scrum feed and about 40 seconds!

80: Wow. What a finish. Michael Morgan busted the line and needed an offload to JT but it travels forward and the Eels come up with it. That's all she wrote folks.

80: FULL TIME: Parramatta Eels defeated the North Queensland Cowboys 18-16. Thanks for joining us tonight, it's been a pleasure. Why not have a sticky at our match report which will be up at shortly. I'm Luke Wenitong, and it's been emotional folks. Good evening.