2023 NRL Round 21: Cowboys 24, Eels 16

North Queensland were looking to avenge last year’s Grand Final qualifier loss to Parramatta Eels at Queensland Country Bank Stadium on Saturday night.

Result

North Queensland Cowboys 24
Tries: Peta Hiku 3rd; Semi Valemei 10th, 25th; Scott Drinkwater 54th
Goals: Valentine Holmes 5th, 11th, 50th, 55th

Parramatta Eels 16
Tries: Sean Russell 13th; Mitch Moses 69th, 74th
Goals: Mitch Moses 70th, 75th

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Report

North Queensland Cowboys celebrated Jake Granville’s 200th game with a victory over the Parramatta Eels by 24-16.

It was always going to be tough for the Eels in humid conditions and without Reagan Campbell-Gillard and Maika Sivo, who were missing from their line-up due to suspension.

Tom Dearden set up Peta Hiku for the first try in the early stages and came up trumps soon after when Scott Drinkwater’s long pass found Semi Valemei to score in the corner.

The Cowboys continued to pepper Waqa Blake with success, resulting in Valemei crossing for his second and the Cowboys leading 16-4 into the halftime break.

Just before halftime, Valentine Holmes was sent to the sin bin for forceful contact on Mitch Moses. Despite having one fewer player, the Cowboys dominated possession in the period after the break, giving the Eels no opportunity to take advantage.

With 78% possession in the opening seventeen minutes of the second half, North Queensland came away with points. Drinkwater went over untouched to score next to the posts and extend the lead to 24-4.

To Parramatta’s credit, they didn’t give up and started to create some headaches for the Cowboys’ defence with their offloads.

Their persistence paid off with eleven minutes remaining when Clint Gutherson sent Mitch Moses on his way to the line. Five minutes later, Gutherson’s offload to Moses saw the halfback put boot to ball, getting to the ball first to score.

The Cowboys lost Griffin Neame to a HIA before half time while Jeremiah Nanai left the field early in the second half with a shoulder problem. Parramatta’s Ryan Matterson is on report for a hip drop on Luciano Leilua in the second half.

North Queensland Cowboys moved into the top eight for the first time since round one after slumping to 16th spot after thirteen rounds.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR POINTS

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3 – Scott Drinkwater (Cowboys)
2 – Tom Dearden (Cowboys)
1 – Clint Gutherson (Eels)

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