The North Queensland Cowboys have gone down to the Eels at Dairy Farmers 24-18 tonight, despite throwing Jonathan Thurston into the side hours before kickoff.
The home advantage and the introduction of Thurston looked to sway things in the Cowboys favour but a slow start and some sloppy handling in the backend cost them dearly.
The Eels started well and were out of the blocks quickly with two early tries, it seemed the confidence from last weeks win over the Bunnies was set to propel them into 2009 form – but it was short-lived. The Parramatta outfit going back into their shells and they too were guilty of poor handling.
The middle third of the game belonged to the Cows. They took their chances when they had the momentum and clawed back from 12-0 down to be 18-12 in front.
Willie Mason was easily the best for the Cowboys. His metre-eating runs and some superb offloads helped his side rack up points and it seemed to be the Willie of 4 years ago.
So good was his performance that commentators were talking about him being an Origin candidate this year.
JT had some good touches also, but the Queensland half-back was lacking in defence – getting steam-rolled several times as the Eels looked to work him over.
Tahu was a standout for Parramatta as was new pivot Kris Keating. Tahu’s energy lifted the side at various times and the zip shown by Keating taking the ball to the line was allowing Parramatta to get on the front foot in attack – something they’ve lacked so far.
Feleti Mateo again struggled to find his mojo. Mateo did setup a nice try late in the piece, but his handling and workrate were probably not what they could have been.
The Eels managed to get late points to seal the game, in a win their coach called ‘scratchy’ – but at the end of the day, they haven’t won at Dairy Farmers since 2000 – so it was a good hoodoo to get off their backs.
The Eels are at home to the Bulldogs next weekend in what is shaping as a good match up between two sides coming into some form after a poor start to 2010.
The Cowboys get a chance to atone, with another home game against the Storm – in what will be desperation stakes for them.