Cowboys cut loose to thrash Eels 38-14 - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Cowboys cut loose to thrash Eels 38-14

By Ben Galvin 06/04/2008 12:22:17 AM Comments (0)

North Queensland claimed their maiden victory of the NRL season with a commanding 38-14 defeat of Parramatta at Dairy Farmers Stadium.

Carl Webb returned to his explosive best to lead a dominant Cowboys forward pack as the home side's attack finally clicked to run in six tries to three in Townsville.

The win snapped a three-game losing streak to begin the season for North Queensland, and will go a long way to easing the pressure on coach Graham Murray.

Ash Graham, filling in for injured flyer Matt Bowen at fullback, starred as the Cowboys led 20-10 at halftime before running in three more tries after the break.

The Eels struggled to get into the match after being starved of possession for most of the first half while being left with little juice in the tank in attack.

Compounding the loss, Parramatta pair Daniel Wagon and Joel Reddy will face a nervous wait after being placed on report for a lifting tackle on Luke O'Donnell in the 12th minute.

A two-try Cowboy surge midway through the second half cruelled any chance of an Eels comeback.

After a tight start to the second half the Cowboys returned to their attacking best with Jacob Lillyman crossing for a 26-10 lead after a long range 90-metre bust from Ty Williams.

Winger Mark Henry extended the lead to 32-10 when he crashed over carrying three Eels defenders.

Cowboys utility Anthony Watts then capped a superb debut scoring with five minutes left to rub further salt into the Eels wounds.

Johnathan Thurston had a hot night with the boot, landing seven from seven goals.

Eels winger Taulima Tautai crossed in the shades of fulltime to reduce the damage to 24 points.

The Cowboys forwards controlled the opening stages with Webb having his best game to date, crossing for a try before hooker Aaron Payne put Justin Smith over for a 12-0 lead.

Eels halves Tim Smith and Brett Finch did their best to stem the early onslaught with the five-eighth diving on a Smith grubber to get his side on the board.

The Cowboys hit back soon after courtesy of Graham crossing in the corner thanks to a slick backline movement.

Soon after the Eels butchered a certain Jarryd Hayne intercept try only to fellow winger Eric Grothe cross in the corner to narrow the gap.

After facing a barrage of criticism for his side's poor start to the season, Murray was relieved with the win.

"The defence set the platform for the attack and I think we got back to what the Cowboys do pretty good and that is supporting each other and defending well," said Murray, who was told pre-season his contract would not be renewed at the club at the end of the year.

"Their attitude was fantastic and it just flows on the attack and defence is related to each other and you can get some momentum in your defence.

"I thought Payney (Aaron) was exceptional on the back of our forwards go forward and I think Ash Graham handled fullback great and our edge blokes went pretty good.

"I could see us playing really good tonight and it wasn't about the win it was about the way we played and the win takes care of itself."

The win also came just days after departing Canberra boss Neil Henry was confirmed as Cowboys coach for 2009, replacing Murray.

Eels coach Michael Hagan said North Queensland was just too good.

"It was a performance from the Cowboys we anticipated and they didn't disappoint us in the way they played," Hagan said.

"We played very poorly and they played very well. They were desperate to win and play well and they have been under pressure.

"The start to the game was poor our control and discipline was poor and we really didn't give ourselves a chance."

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