North Queensland Cowboys gained a convincing 24-16 victory over the Parramatta Eels today at ANZ Stadium, and they will now face Sydney Roosters in the last four of the NRL competition next weekend.
The Cowboys, playing without the iconic Johnathan Thurston, were guided around the field by Michael Morgan, who scored the clinching try on 75 minutes.
Tepai Moeroa was ruled out of the Eels side with concussion, so Kenny Edwards started in the second row. Siosaia Vave dropped off the bench with Kaysa Pritchard and Peni Terepo joining the interchange.
For the Cowboys Justin O’Neill returned at centre, replacing Javid Bowen, while Shaun Fensom started at prop with John Asiata on the bench.
In a thrilling first half, the Eels took the lead with a try from winger Semi Radradra on seven minutes that saw him run the length of the field to touch down, with Mitchell Moses converting.
The Cowboys soon hit back, however, with an impressive try from wingman Kyle Feldt, who squeezed in at the corner for a try that the on-field referee rejected but which was approved by the video-referee, and Ethan Lowe converted superbly from the touchline.
The Eels went back in front on 31 minutes with another try over the length of the field, this time from Will Smith, who picked up a Cowboys grubber and dashed down the wing to score for a try that wasn’t converted.
The Cowboys took the lead on 45 minutes when Asiata touched down a Michael Morgan bomb, with Lowe converting to make it 12-10.
The Eels almost replied when Manu Ma’u lost the ball as he squeezed over the line in heavy traffic.
Instead it was the Cowboys who extended their lead through Coen Hess, who touched down next to the posts for Lowe to convert.
But it was left to the outstanding Morgan to put the icing on the cake, with Lowe adding his fourth conversion, before Michael Jennings scored a try for the Eels on the final hooter with Moses adding a second conversion.
Eels: 1 Will Smith, 2 Semi Radradra, 3 Michael Jennings, 4 Brad Takairangi, 5 Kirisome Auva’a, 6 Corey Norman, 7 Mitchell Moses, 8 Daniel Alvaro, 9 Cameron King, 10 Tim Mannah (c), 11 Manu Ma’u, 15 Kenny Edwards, 13 Nathan Brown; Interchange: 14 Beau Scott (c), 17 Suaia Matagi, 18 Kaysa Pritchard, 19 Peni Terepo.
Tries: Radradra, Smith, Jennings; Goals: Moses 2
Cowboys: 1 Lachlan Coote, 2 Kyle Feldt, 19 Justin O’Neill, 4 Kane Linnett, 5 Antonio Winterstein, 6 Te Maire Martin, 7 Michael Morgan, 17 Shaun Fensom, 9 Jake Granville, 10 Scott Bolton, 11 Gavin Cooper (c), 12 Ethan Lowe, 13 Jason Taumalolo; Interchange: 8 John Asiata, 14 Ben Hampton, 15 Coen Hess, 16 Corey Jensen.
Tries: Feldt, Asiata, Hess, Morgan; Goals: Lowe 4
Full coverage of all the weekend’s NRL matches will feature in Monday’s issue of League Express, available in the shops and online from Sunday evening.