Cow­boys keep up the shock treat­ment

Sunday Tasmanian - - Sport - STEVE ZEMEK

NORTH Queens­land moved within 80 min­utes of the un­like­li­est NRL grand fi­nal ap­pear­ance in modern his­tory fol­low­ing a shock 24-16 semi­fi­nal win over Par­ra­matta.

The Cow­boys pulled off one of the big­gest boilovers of the year in front of 41,287 at ANZ Sta­dium.

The Cow­boys only snuck into eighth spot when St Ge­orge Illawarra was beaten by Can­ter­bury in the last round, but will now take on the Syd­ney Roost­ers next Saturday for a spot in the sea­son de­cider.

The Townsville side was ef­fec­tively writ­ten off af­ter co­cap­tains Johnathan Thurston and Matt Scott were ruled out for the year, but con­tin­ues to defy the odds.

Half­back Michael Mor­gan was out­stand­ing, dic­tat­ing terms with his kick­ing game be­fore scor­ing the match-seal­ing four-pointer five min­utes from full-time.

The Eels melted un­der the pres­sure, mak­ing 13 er­rors and com­plet­ing just 26 of 39 sets as a sea­son which promised so much came to a dis­ap­point­ing end.

Cow­boys lock Ja­son Tau­malolo so­lid­i­fied his rep­u­ta­tion as the best for­ward in the com­pe­ti­tion, run­ning for 236m from 21 runs and mak­ing 33 tack­les.

The Cow­boys took the lead for the first time five min­utes af­ter the break when the Eels al­lowed a Mor­gan tor­pedo to bounce and John Asi­ata snatched it out of the grasp of Will Smith.

The vis­i­tors went fur­ther ahead when Te Maire Martin turned it in­side for Coen Hess, set­ting off an all-in push and shove.

Eels hooker Cameron King ap­peared to lead with his knees as Hess grounded the ball and was lucky not to in­cur an eight-point try, while Manu Mau’u struck Ben Hamp­ton in the neck but was not pun­ished.

Ear­lier, the Eels took a 10-6 lead into half-time thanks to two run­away ef­forts off North Queens­land kicks.

Semi Radradra raced 100m to open the scor­ing in the sev­enth minute when Martin found him on the full be­fore Smith scooped up a poorly placed Mor­gan kick.

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