NORTH Queensland celebrated the appointment of their new coach Neil Henry and answered a torrent of criticism by belting Parramatta.Prop Carl Webb, slammed by former Queensland and Australia prop Greg Dowling during the week for his poor form over the opening month of the season, set the tone for the Cowboys’ first win of 2008 in front of 19,231 loyal Dairy Farmers Stadium fans by scoring the opening try after only four minutes.
The EelsÂ – whose performance was reminiscent of their loss to the Warriors two weeks agoÂ – were fortunate to be still in the game at 20-10 by halftime.
But despite the absence of injured fullback Matt Bowen, the Cowboys went on with the job in the second half. Second rower Jacob Lillyman scored on the next ruck after a long Ty Williams break in the 57th minute and then centre Mark Henry forced his way over in the 61st.
Compounding the woes of Parramatta coach Michael Hagan was three playersÂ – five-eighth Brett Finch, second rower Daniel Wagon and centre Joel ReddyÂ – being booked for a lifting tackle on Luke O’Donnell in the 11th minute.
Cowboys replacement Shane Tronc could also be a bit of trouble for a late challenge on Finch after he had kicked the ball in the 47th minute. The defeat continues Parramatta’s poor record in Townsville, where they have failed to win since 2000.
Five minutes after Webb’s try, they were in again with hooker Aaron Payne darting out of dummy-half and linking with Steve Southern, who found five-eighth Justin Smith backing up to score.
The Eels hit back with tries to Brett Finch and Eric Grothe but were never really in the hunt against a Cowboys side playing full of confidence of days gone by. With Johnathan Thurston converted both tries for a 12-0 lead.
Parramatta was given another headache in the 11th minute when three players were booked by rookie referee Bernard Sutton for a spear tackle on North Queensland lock Luke O’Donnell.
Sutton called out Joel Reddy and Daniel Wagon to caution them but replays showed Brett Finch was also involved.
The Cowboys’ inept attack of the previous month was nowhere to be seen and the Eels looked sluggish but somehow the visitors managed to stay in the game, Tim Smith kicking for five-eighth Brett Finch to swoop after Webb had conceded a penalty.
Luke Burt’s goal narrowed the margin to six but after Parramatta made errors deep in their own territory on two occasions, halfback Thurston made them pay in the 28th minute by putting fullback Josh Graham over for another Cowboys try.
At 18-6, North Queensland threatened to run away with the game but Eels centre Jarryd Hayne took an intercept with another Cowboy try in the offing and raced 60 metres before slowing up and losing posession.
NQ fumbled themselves, giving the Michael Hagan’s men a scrumfeed, and Finch’s pass put winger Eric Grothe over in the corner for an unconverted try which kept Parramatta in touch.
The scoreboard ticked over to North Queensland 20 Parramatta 10 when Thurston booted a penalty goal on halftime following a ball-strip.
After the match ParramattaÂ captain Nathan Cayless was brutally honest in the appraisal of his team. “We were pretty awful, we’ve got to put that one down to attitude,” Cayless said. “We trained well all week, but we didn’t turn up with the right attitude.”
When asked later to expand on his comments, he said: “I include myself in that. We’re very disappointed. We talked about the Cowboys being desperate, we talked about how they would want to win. But in the end you have to get out on the field and do it, and we didn’t”.
Cowboys captain Johnathan Thurston praised the efforts of Carl Webb, who was criticised during the week by former Test prop Greg Dowling. “It was Carl Webb who really inspired us with his first 20 minutes, he led from the front,” Thurston said. “When he’s at his damaging best, he’s hard to stop.”
Courtesy Daily Telegraph