In his first game back from injury, a Jarryd Hayne double was enough to give the Parramatta Eels a win over the North Queensland Cowboys.
Playing their annual game in Darwin, the Eels record at TIO Stadium has been good in recent years.
That record continued, with the Eels winning 20-14 to get back in the winners’ circle.
The double was Hayne’s first for the Eels since round 26, 2014, although the Eels still have work to do in order to avoid the spoon.
Still two points adrift of the Cowboys, the Eels will be pleased with the general fluidity in their attack, however.
It was Hayne who troubled the scorers first; catching the Cowboys defence napping off a quick tap.
Several tries were then missed on or called back; Te Maire Martin’s passes twice went awry before Michael Jennings bobbled the ball near the line.
Feldt would not be denied a second time, though, as he coasted over with an acrobatic finish that the bunker deemed a try.
Tip-toeing down the sideline, Feldt only just maintained control and downward pressure to score.
The second half started with a bang, as Lachlan Coote failed to take a bomb resulting in a second Eels try.
In the end, it was Clint Gutherson with a cut-out pass for George Jennings to score on his birthday.
Hayne then scored his second, taking a perfectly weighted cross-field kick from Eels half Corey Norman.
Although two late tries to Matt Scott and Enari Tuala gave the score some respectability, they failed to lift the Cowboys mood.
With the club keen to move on from Norman’s breach notice, he drew praise from Eels coach Brad Arthur for his performance.
“We’ve moved on from (the breach notice) and he showed in his performance tonight how important it is to play for his teammates,” Arthur said.
“He was blowing early there tonight because he wasn’t able to get on the training paddock much with that foot injury, but he’s worked extremely hard to make sure he could get on the field.
“It will likely be the same this week (ahead of Thursday’s clash with South Sydney), we probably won’t get a lot of training out of him.
But we’re going into a bye so he just needs to get on the field, give us another 80 minutes and we can rest him up a bit.”
The message was simple from Cowboys captain Thurston; just do the basics and the fundamentals.
“We need to get to the bottom of it,” Thurston lamented.
“They’re the answers we need to find out. Just basic footy.
“Catch pass, catch the ball first before you pass, that would be nice. Play-the-ball, it’s stuff you’re taught as a kid and we were very ordinary in that aspect tonight.”
Player of the Game:
3. Jarryd Hayne
2. Nathan Brown
- Matt Scott