Parramatta did everything right and the Cowboys did everything they could to make sure they could not catch them in a poor night for the locals at 1300 Smiles Stadium.
If you cannot hold onto the ball, you will not win the game
Handling errors by the Cowboys made this result happen. The Eels were not dominant just due to their own skills, the Cowboys dropped the ball, kicked out on the full, and failed to kick the ball into places that would put the Eels under pressure. It was like watching a game from the early years, as they failed to complete a set, and then have to work hard to prevent their opponent scoring. Easily the worst performance by the Cowboys in a decade.
Clint Gutherson had a great night
At one stage, Gutherson had scored all of Parramatta points as he clocked two first half tries and was perfect with the boot, including a great conversion from the sideline that seemed to say that it was going to be his night. But scoring two tries and being perfect off the boot was good for 53 fantasy points, and that was only third best for his side. Not every night will be this easy, but he did make it look pretty good for his team.
Kalyn Ponga also had a good night
The problem for the Cowboys will be when Coote returns. Who do they drop, his form demands that he stays in this team and the Cowboys will need to win a few to make it to September. This game was a terrible game for every other Cowboy on the field. But Ponga can leave the field knowing that he did everything he could to help his team. For reasons that make zero sense, we saw the Cowboys fail to utilise the only player running hot when they got anywhere near the line for the majority of the game and the crowd was not happy with how the Fullback was wasted by a side that seemed to want to look elsewhere for the spark. Pass him the damned ball and follow him, because leaving it to the rest of the team (at the moment) is a waste of time.
Parramatta ran Rampant
Early this season (before he signed a huge contract, mind you) Jason Taumalolo was averaging 200 metres per game. Tonight, he was kept to a little over 100. The Eels managed to put on 460 metres more than the Cowboys, and had eight players with over 100. The Eels were able to gain a large number of metres through areas that were meant to be strengths of the Cowboys defence and with four other players in the nineties, they were dominant.
Parramatta Eels 26
Tries: Gutherson (2), Smith, Mannah.
North Queensland Cowboys 6