Eels put on clinic for no-name Cowboys
Eels 44 def Cowboys 14
A confident Parramatta Eels side tonight has burnt a hapless Cowboys outfit to the tune of 30 points. The Eels did start favourites after the Cowboys had something like 7 first graders unavailable for selection through injury and Origin duties and the Western Sydney club didn’t disappoint – turning on the afterburners with a flashy performance tonight.
The Cowboys were under the guidance of Ian Millward, with Grahame Murray standing aside due to his Origin committments. While the Cowboys had to contend with these interruptions, it was no excuse for the poor showing tonight.
The North Queensland side committed just under 50 missed tackles and looked like passengers for the entire game.
When the Eels got a good share of early ball, Tim Smith and Luke Burt were like recurring night terrors for the Cowboys – involved in everything and popping up all over the park.
The Eels had good support through Feleti Mateo, who had the shoes of Nathan Hindmarsh to fill. Mateo has been been touted as the next Sonny Bill Williams, and he didn’t disappoint. The young, rangey back rower busting tackles at will and holding the pill like a tennis ball on virtually every hitup.
Ben Smith must also be given a big wrap for the home side. His vision in defence is impressive, he came in and shut down several dangerous situations and regularly turned these into counter attacking opportunities.
As the game wore on, the Eels forwards were busting the line at will, Aaron Cannings continuing his improving form this year – after a long stint on the sidelines with injury. PJ Marsh alos proved a handful out of dummy half and continued his claims for resigning by the Eels.
It is hard not to mention most of the Eels tonight, as the majority of the side all had input. Robinson made his return from injury and was solid and mistake free for most of the night, scoring a nice individual try after stepping inside a tiring Jason Smith. Luke Burt jagged man of the match honours after a haul of 24 points for the blue and gold. The custodian kicking 8 from 9 and keeping his percentage above 90% for 2007 and keeping his rank as the no.1 goal kicker ahead of Hazem El Masri.
The Eels tactics to target Jason Smith worked extremely well for them, with wave after wave being sent at the 35 year old playmaker. Smith would have felt every 1 of his 2 packs of cigarettes a day as he was forced to make plenty of tackles and still be called upon as the go to man when the Cowboys had their limited chances in attack. The only negative for the Eels was the lack of impact from Brett Finch. I hate to keep mentioning the pivot for the Eels, but he continues to be a passenger for the Eels and really only came to the forefront late in the game when tiring opposition was a factor. The Eels seem to be carrying the import and his size proves a problem with on-line defence.
The Cowboys were served well by Aaron Payne and Sione Faumuina – these two guys tried hard all night with Faumuina getting an early try off a nice Jason Smith face pass. Payne also had to do plenty of tackling, but had good space out of dummy half and put up good service all night. Especially quiet nights were had by Bowman and Matt Bowen for the Cowboys – with the two veterans rarely seen with ball in hand tonight.
The Cowboys held multiple debreifing sessions after the game, as the franchise fears for a repeat of the train wreck that was 2006. The Cowboys won’t want a repeat of their failed midseason form last year and all eyes will be on the North Queenslanders as they face fellow Queenslanders the Broncos next week.