Cowboys v Eels: Five key points

Parramatta's forwards and left-edge attack dominate as the Cowboys miss Johnathan Thurston's leadership and kicking game.

Parramatta's left edge fires

Under the direction of Corey Norman the Eels' left edge – especially Semi Radradra and Michael Jennings – tormented the Cowboys all night. Whether it was ball movement or scoots from dummy-half the Eels could do no wrong down their left side, with all cylinders from Norman's passes to Gutherson's support play syncing perfectly.  

Coach Brad Arthur was happy with the performance of every player on the edge. "Corey's a class player and he's got Michael Jennings outside him and Semi and Manu Ma'u inside him so they're pretty handy players," Arthur said. 

Cowboys discipline and ball control costs them 

The Cowboys completed at only 60 per cent in the first half, and were lucky to walk away only trailing 14-0 at the break. Their six errors and five penalties would leave any team in a position verging on unwinnable. 

They failed to improve in the second half, finishing the game with a poor 66 per cent completion rate. "Some simple things in our game that we just didn't do," Cowboys coach Paul Green said.  

"I'm not sure that we… were prepared to match them physically at the start although defensively we put ourselves under pressure with an error in the first set. And that was from one of our Test players."

North Queensland misses Thurston 

The Cowboys are lacking everything Johnathan Thurston brings to the field: leadership, playmaking ability and most of all, kicking. Michael Morgan and John Asiata were admirable in attack and defence, but simply could not match it with Corey Norma's kicking game. Their kicks went out on the full, were too short, or were caught on the full in-goal. Between them Morgan and Asiata put in only a handful of kicks that made the Eels work for their field position. 

Captain Gavin Cooper spoke about the Cowboys' poor fifth tackle options after the game. "I thought for parts of the game when we did roll the sleeves up we were ok but then just too much pressure on ourselves," Cooper said.  

"I think three or four twenty metre taps in the first half, Johnny [Asiata] kicked it out on the full which wasn't great. They just had too much ball."

Cowboys' forwards dominated 

The Cowboys' usually powerful forward pack was utterly dominated by the Eels, with Jason Taumalolo the only forward to make more than a hundred metres, clocking only 106. Green was adamant that the loss fell on the team as a whole, and not on the shoulders of the young players in the team due to injury.  

"We can use the excuse of we've got some inexperienced guys and some young guys in there at the moment but that's not the reason why we're not playing as well as we can," Green said. 

Cooper was similarly confident that the problems were with the team, and not with any individual. "It's not coaching, not game plan, not any of that stuff just concentration and not concentrating for long enough I think," Cooper said. "That's right across the board, that's not the guys coming in that's the whole team… We're all a team we can all help each other." 

Eels make it three straight 

The Eels have pulled themselves into the top eight after winning three games in a row and will be eager to continue their good form against the Roosters. Arthur was particularly impressed with the extra efforts the Eels showed throughout the game, particularly on their own line. 

"We were really happy with the defence part of it. We had to defend four of five sets on out try line and it's what's needed against very good teams," Arthur said. 

The Eels' line speed choked the Cowboys out of space throughout the night, and it was no accident according to Arthur. "It's something that we try to work hard at but you've got to make sure that you get numbers into the tackles and we're winning them so we can get off the line."