Have the Eels cracked the Cowboys code?
It was clear early on that the pressure was on both the 6 and 7 with Michael Morgan and Johnathan Thurston getting very little time to do anything with the ball before the line got to them.
Whilst many teams have tried to shut down JT, Corey Norman was all over Morgan as well shutting down optional plays on many occasions. Whilst this is an obvious tactic, it was executed well and restricted Morgan and the right hand side of the field’s effectiveness. Paul Green will have to look at this so that it does not become an Achilles heel.
Home Ground Helps?
With the reduction on the interchange, does the impact of the home crowd on the players help or hinder? Last week we saw 5 out of 8 games go to the home team, and so far this week we have seen 5 out of 6 home teams emerge victorious. It will be interesting to see how this trends out over the season and how it compares to the previous years.
It was clear that the game had several calls in which the home team’s crowd called for a penalty, now when combined with the interchange impacts present a determining factor. Will successful crowd called penalties be enough to impact on the final result?
The Interchange is still being worked out
Matt Scott went off injured after a head clash and the impacts of the shuffle of his replacement and return due to the concussion rule had an impact on the game plane of the Cowboys. The concussion protocol, when combined with the restriction on players substituted without a penalty may end up costing a team in the finals.
Handling the ball early in the season is hard
Both sides dropped the pill during the game. Handling of the ball in hot and steamy conditions is paramount and yet we saw the ball on the floor like we were at a soccer match. Whilst players expect the ball to be slippery in a wet game, holding on when the sweat is flowing is probably harder.
The Cowboys completed at only 63% which will not win you many games with 15 errors (The Raiders at 56% completion rate did though) whilst the Eels were at 72% and 11 mistakes. Error rate per team is sitting at approximately 11 per team (obviously the Rabbitohs who completed at 80% decided that they would buck the trend) but in general handling has been just below 70% completion rate and rather poor, especially when you consider the reduced interchange would make you want to be defending less and controlling the ball is the only way to do this.
IN THE SHEDS
Nathan Peats (Eels) Dislocated Elbow
Matt Scott (Cowboys) Cut required stitches.
Reports: Manu Manu (Eels) Crusher Tackle, Matt Scott (Cowboys) Crusher Tackle
Parramatta Eels 20
Tries: Peats, Edwards, Takairangi
Goals: Gordon 2/3
Penalty Goals: Gordon 2/2
North Queensland Cowboys 16
Tries: Lowe, O’Neill, Taumalolo
Goals: Thurston 2/3