Eels send defending champs crashing out

The Eels have knocked out defending champions North Queensland in the opening quarter-final with a tense, last-minute 17-11 win on the back of another Chris Sandow masterclass.

One of the stars of the weekend so far, Sandow looked to have opened the scoring three minutes in with a step and run at the line but the ball came free as he went to ground it.

Instead it was the Cowboys who went in first following a fast tap-restart from Kyle Feldt that caught the Eels napping, with hooker Jake Granville going through the line shortly after to score under the posts for a seven-point lead.

Some Sandow magic levelled the scores shortly after; he was flattened as he chased a chip he put in for himself but Corey Norman ran through and pickpocketed it from the defence and promoted the ball to the bonus zone.

After a tense end-to-end battle for five minutes of the second half, the Eels turned a nothing set into points when a Corey Norman cross-field kick was swooped on by Bureta Faraimo out wide.

A right-side shift started by Robert Lui caught the Eels short and Justin O'Neill ran around to score his fourth try of the weekend and level up at 11-all with under two minutes remaining.

Corey Norman provided the heroics for the Eels, a straightforward step-and-go at the line allowing him to jink over. Reece Robinson watched the shot-clock count down to one second before casually snapping the tricky field goal for a six-point lead in the shadows of full-time.

The Cowboys had one final chance as the final siren sounded but Eels half Luke Kelly won the foot race to a chip ahead from North Queensland and sent the ball sailing out past the dead ball line as his side celebrated a semi-finals berth.

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