Eels bag emphatic 44-14 win over Cowboys - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Eels bag emphatic 44-14 win over Cowboys

By Steve Jancetic 19/05/2007 09:23:39 PM Comments (0)

For many State of Origin is the highlight of the rugby league season, but the mid-season spectacular is threatening to turn into a recurring nightmare for North Queensland, who have lost 44-14 to the Eels at Parramatta Stadium.

The Cowboys looked a mere shadow of the side which had cruised into third spot on the ladder over the opening nine rounds of the NRL as the Eels, led by brilliant performances from PJ Marsh and Luke Burt, gave them a footballing lesson.

The match was the first the Cowboys have to encounter without Origin representatives Johnathan Thurston, Carl Webb and Jacob Lillyman and NSW coach Graham Murray watched while club assistant Ian Millward handled the team.

North Queensland's premiership campaign derailed over the same period last year when they lost five of six matches, but veteran playmaker Jason Smith insisted it wasn't a case of deja vu.

"It's simple - we played ordinary today and Parramatta played well," Smith said.

"(Thurston's) the captain of the club and he's the one we look to when we need that special play and he does it so often, of course you miss him."

Millward said the Cowboys never gave themselves a chance with their poor discipline.

"When you've got some players out you've got to be pretty squeaky clean and build pressure," Millward said.

"Unfortunately we couldn't get enough rhythm to build pressure and suffered the consequences."

Marsh, who is shopping himself around for a new club in 2008, was a constant menace out of dummy-half for the Eels, while Burt's stunning achievements continued with a personal haul of 24 points courtesy of two tries and eight goals.

Never mentioned as a representative candidate, Burt said he was in the best form of his career.

"Probably in my own eyes, yeah," Burt said.

"It's the first time I've played fullback consistently but I'm enjoying my football more than I ever have.

"I don't think about (representative football) but as any other footballer would - I'm only 25 going on 26 - so I'd love to get the chance."

His points tally aside, Burt's all-round game was sharp, never more so than just before the break when he regathered his own goal-line dropout.

It was an audacious play with the Eels only up 14-4 at the time, but it proved pivotal, with Mark Riddell barging over several plays later to set up a much more commanding 20-4 halftime advantage.

"He likes them," Eels coach Michael Hagan said of Burt's short restart.

"He's playing out of his skin at the moment. Players' player again - I think he would have won a few of those this year for us."

"I think that (Riddell try) gave us a pretty good buffer."

The Eels accentuated their dominance with another try just after the break before the game turned into a track meet, with both sides sharing four tries within an 11-minute period.

Burt then scored his second try 14 minutes from time before Aaron Cannings completed the rout when he ran through a tiring Cowboys defence to score a soft four-pointer in the dying stages.

The Cowboys' pain was heightened after the match with Ashley Graham believed to have suffered a suspected season-ending knee injury, leaving another to join North Queensland's growing list.

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