Neve O’Neill reviews the Round Eight blockbuster between the Parramatta Eels and North Queensland Cowboys at Bankwest Stadium. Here’s how the game unfolded.
|10th||Try Michael Jennings (Eels)||Eels 4-0|
|12th||Goal Clinton Gutherson (Eels)||Eels 6-0|
|21st||Try Maika Sivo (Eels)||Eels 10-0|
|27th||Try Waqa Blake (Eels)||Eels 14-0|
|28th||Goal Clinton Gutherson (Eels)||Eels 16-0|
|38th||Try Tom Opacic (Cowboys)||Eels 16-4|
|40th||Try Jai Field (Eels)||Eels 20-4|
|42nd||Goal Clinton Gutherson (Eels)||Eels 22-4|
|49th||Try Maika Sivo (Eels)||Eels 26-4|
|50th||Goal Clinton Gutherson (Eels)||Eels 28-4|
|61st||Try Maika Sivo (Eels)||Eels 32-4|
|62nd||Goal Clinton Gutherson (Eels)||Eels 34-4|
|72nd||Try Maika Sivo (Eels)||Eels 38-4|
|73rd||Goal Clinton Gutherson (Eels)||Eels 40-4|
|79th||Penalty Goal Clinton Gutherson (Eels)||Eels 42-4|
Despite a strong start from the Cowboys, the Eels managed to bank the first points of the clash in spectacular fashion. A slick shift and cut out pass from Clinton Gutherson perplexed Cowboy Kyle Feldt, and gave centre Michael Jennings the chance to stroll over in the left corner.
Just 10 minutes later, another perfect long ball from Gutherson enticed Feldt and gifted winger Maika Sivo just enough space to score the Eels’ second try.
Their next four pointer came courtesy of a pinpoint kick from five eighth Dylan Brown. An agile Waqa Blake collected the skyscraper, and used brut strength to monster his way past Cowboy Justin O’Neill to put his team out to a 16 point lead.
Just before half time, a beautifully timed pass from Cowboys five eighth Scott Drinkwater split the Eels’ right edge defence and sent centre Tom Opacic over for their first try.
Parramatta’s ‘eel’ectric start sent them into the break leading 16-4.
It only took 60 seconds for the Eels to get another try on the board. A high kick from Dylan Brown fell into the hands of halfback Jai Field, who used his speed to beat the Cowboys’ left edge defenders to the line. Gutherson’s sideline conversion extended the Eels’ lead to 18.
A scintillating run from Gutherson put the Eels in great field position and set the foundation for their next four pointer. Another deft pass from Gutherson perplexed the Cowboys’ right edge, and gave Sivo the opportunity to don dazzling footwork and bag a double.
It was déjà vu just moments later, when another spiralling bullet pass found the hands of Sivo. The powerful winger left Cowboy Feldt in his wake, and grounded his third of the night. Adding further insult to injury, Sivo (literally) strolled over for his fourth try just 10 minutes later and extended the Eels’ lead to 34. A last minute penalty goal was the icing on the cake for the boys from Parramatta.
The 40-4 thumping elevates the Eels to outright first place on the NRL ladder, and keeps the Cowboys just adrift of the top eight.
Parramatta’s fan favourite – ‘King Gutho’! In his 100th game, the fullback was brilliant and had a hand in everything. He ran for over 250 metres, had 3 try assists and slotted 7/8 conversions. His poise in attack and efficiency in defence helped his team to another impressive victory, and debunked any concerns that the Eels would struggle to fill the void left by injured star playmaker Mitchell Moses.
Parramatta Eels: 1 Clinton Gutherson, 2 Maika Sivo, 3 Michael Jennings, 4 Waqa Blake, 5 Blake Ferguson, 6 Dylan Brown, 7 Jai Field, 8 Reagan Campbell-Gillard, 9 Reed Mahoney, 10 Junior Paulo, 11 Shaun Lane, 12 Ryan Matterson, 13 Marata Niukore. Interchange: 14 Ray Stone, 15 David Gower, 16 Oregon Kaufusi, 17 Brad Takairangi.
North Queensland Cowboys: 19 Valentine Holmes, 2 Kyle Feldt, 3 Tom Opacic, 4 Esan Marsters, 5 Justin O’Neill, 6 Scott Drinkwater, 7 Jake Clifford, 8 Josh McGuire, 9 Reece Robson, 17 Francis Molo, 11 Shane Wright, 12 Coen Hess, 13 Jason Taumalolo. Interchange: 14 Ben Hampton, 15 Gavin Cooper, 16 Peter Hola, 18 Reuben Cotter.