Almanac Rugby League – A Parramatta Nightmare

Match ReportNorth Queensland Cowboys v Parramatta Eels

Saturday, 17th March, 7.30pm

Right from the kickoff you should know that I am an Eels’ supporter who is still wallowing in the wonder years of the 1980s. In fact, if I could choose my Groundhog Year it would unquestionably be 1986 when the ‘decade-dominating’ Eels won both the Premiership and the now forgotten Panasonic Cup. Perhaps the very act of writing these match reports will go some way to scouring away the scars of the last twenty-five years.

What an assignment! The beleaguered Eels, pointless and Hayne-less after two rounds, travelling north to face the in-form Cowboys. Even with the dogged Hindmarsh back after a virus, unless the Cowboys are over confident, a betting man would find it hard to wager against them at home.

Despite 170mm of rain since Wednesday the ground was surprisingly dry, but that’s only because all the moisture was in the air. Watching the game live from the comfort of my lounge, I swear I could feel the Nth Queensland humidity seeping through the speakers. I’m surprised the refs’ whistles even work in Nth Queensland.  The turnout was disappointing, but perhaps not surprising given the inclement weather.

The first half opened with some promising play from the Eels. Several tidy completions culminating with solid kicks from Sandow had me relatively hopeful, but then again I’ve been there before. The Cowboys looked tentative early but they just needed ten minutes to scout the Eels’ weaknesses – it’ s surprising it took this long. The first penalty (the ref’s whistle is working) on 15 minutes to the Cowboys coincided with the skies opening up, resulting in a flood of points for the Cowboys. A try to Scott (no doubt his tiny hometown of Ilfracombe will have a statue erected in his honour next week), opened the tally.

With the maestro Thurston orchestrating the plays, it wasn’t long before Graham and Taumalolo both scored tries. Graham’s grounding of the ball had about as much control as an interview with Charlie Sheen, but the third ref is obviously a fan. Graham went on to score a hat trick. Taumalolo’s try came after a superb Bowen 40-20. It was a telling blow. Taumalolo may have a dog named Mango, but there’s nothing else soft about this mountain of a man who swatted away five players on his way to the line. Burt, to his credit, held on like a barnacle on a battleship but could do nothing to stop him. With a halftime score of 26-0, the Eels were in a world of worry. So was I.

At the start of the second half the rain had stopped, perhaps presaging a Parra comeback. In the 51st minute, Roberts managed to slither across the line for what would have been the Eels’ first try had it not been called back for an obstruction.  However, in the 54th minute, the lax Cowboys (or perhaps it was a sense of occasion to mark St. Patrick’s Day) allowed the aptly named Patrick O’Hanlon to step through some feeble defence for the Eel’s first, and sadly, only try.  The Eels were winning the 2nd half (It’s the small things – humour me)! Then came the rain and the end of any comeback. From this point my attention span wavered, as I could read the writing on the wall.  It read: ‘Dropped balls, no defence, no passion, no chance’. The Cowboys made the most of a lackluster opposition and piled on three more effortless tries. It’s difficult to believe even Hayne’s magic could have made a difference tonight. The Cowboys impressed. To score eight team tries in soggy conditions is no mean feat. The only consolation for the Eels is that while they are yet to register a point, they can’t drop any lower on the table.  Several text messages from mates during the game kindly reminded me of this fact.

In lieu of a more eloquent summary of the game, I’ll leave you with Hindmarsh’s succinct summation in a post-match interview, “It was a crappy night”.  Indeed it was.

North Queensland Cowboys 42 (Tries: Scott, Graham 3, Taumalolo, Bowen, Linnett, Cooper Goals: Thurston 5/8)
Parramatta Eels 6 (Tries: O’Hanlon Goals: Sandow 1/1)

Venue: Dairy Farmers Stadium
Crowd: 8,239
Votes: 3-Thurston (Cow), 2-Graham (Cow), 1- Bowen (Cow)
Milestones: Bowen’s first half 40-20; Graham’s hat trick



About Nick Tedeschi

Nick Tedeschi was the chief rugby league writer at Punting Ace for five years after a career in politics and bookmaking. He has written freelance for a number of organisations including Back Page Lead, Crikey and Betfair and now runs his own website. He writes an annual NRL betting preview and is a diehard Canterbury fan who lists Craig Polla-Mounter, David Stagg, Tony Grimaldi and Daryl Halligan as his favourite players.

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