Awe­some un­der­dogs

Sunday Territorian - - SPORT - EELS COW­BOYS RIKKI-LEE ARNOLD

PAR­RA­MATTA Tries: Goals: NORTH QUEENS­LAND Tries: Goals: Crowd: Ref­er­ees: THE Cow­boys are just 80 min­utes from their se­cond grand fi­nal ap­pear­ance in three years, af­ter they de­fied be­lief with a stun­ning 24-16 vic­tory over the Eels in Syd­ney.

North Queens­land have set up a date with the Syd­ney Roost­ers next Satur­day af­ter an awe-in­spir­ing per­for­mance.

Three weeks ago, they were a se­ri­ous chance of miss­ing the top eight.

Now they are a se­ri­ous chance to be there on grand fi­nal day next month.

They have been la­belled ev­ery­thing un­der the sun this sea­son – gutsy, in­jury-rav­aged, brave, bruised, bat­tered, coura­geous, tough.

But se­ri­ous premier­ship con­tenders? It’s not a tag that has come up a lot.

How­ever for those in­side the club, it was never out of the ques­tion.

First the Sharks, now the Eels have fallen to Paul Green’s ul­ti­mate un­der­dogs. Will the Roost­ers be next? Af­ter last night’s per­for­mance, it seems very pos­si­ble.

There could be no end to this Cow­boys jug­ger­naut, which has been built on self be­lief.

Par­ra­matta fans left ANZ Sta­dium in droves at the 75th minute of last night’s match, when Michael Mor­gan – this week de­clared the next King in the North by Johnathan Thurston – bar­relled towards the line to seal the deal for the Cow­boys.

It was the fi­nal blow in a se­cond half that was all about North Queens­land.

The Eels did not score un­til the dy­ing sec­onds of the se­cond stanza, af­ter John Asi­ata nabbed the first try of his NRL ca­reer in the 45th minute be­fore Coen Hess (52nd minute) and Mor­gan added to the score­board.

The Cow­boys were cool, calm and col­lected as they ran away with the vic­tory.

For­tune did go Par­ra­matta’s way in the first half, af­ter they scored two long-range tries to put the Cow­boys be­hind on the score­board.

The first try came in the sev­enth minute when Semi Radradra ran 100m af­ter snatch­ing a Te Maire Martin kick from the air, while full­back Will Smith picked up a Michael Mor­gan grub­ber to go 90m to score in the 31st minute.

De­spite go­ing into the sheds down 10-6 at half­time, it was clear the Cow­boys were putting the pres­sure on the Eels.

Pic­ture: AAP

Gavin Cooper of the Cow­boys tack­les Ken­neth Ed­wards of the Eels dur­ing the NRL semi fi­nal be­tween the Par­ra­matta Eels and the North Queens­land

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