Parramatta has breathed life into its stuttering NRL campaign by claiming a hard-fought 24-16 win over North Queensland.
- Mitchell Moses clinched victory for the Eels with a late converted try
- The result moves the Eels to a 6-7 win-loss record
- The Eels lost new recruit Joe Ofahengaue to injury early in the match
The Eels have endured a topsy-turvy start to 2023 and their fortunes took a further twist on Friday night when new recruit Joe Ofahengaue limped off just seven minutes into his club debut after signing from the Wests Tigers earlier this week.
Last year’s grand finalists were solid if unspectacular in front of 14,810 spectators at Western Sydney Stadium, with a late converted try from halfback Mitchell Moses getting them home.
Holding a 6-7 win-loss record, the Eels now enjoy a much-needed bye with the win moving them up to 10th spot on the ladder.
North Queensland, meanwhile, battled valiantly, with a late Kyle Feldt double looking to have given the visitors a chance of leaving Sydney’s west with a win until a rash offload from Coen Hess led to Moses’s late try.
The Cowboys, smarting from last week’s 66-18 humbling at the hands of the Wests Tigers, began in impressive fashion.
They looked confident whenever they moved the ball and an intricate display of passing allowed electric fullback Scott Drinkwater to dash in for the opener.
Ofahengaue, who was part of the Tigers side which thumped the Cowboys before Tuesday’s switch to the Eels, hobbled off soon after and did not return.
Down a player in a forward rotation already without Junior Paulo (State of Origin duty), Ryan Matterson (calf), Shaun Lane (hamstring) and Reagan Campbell-Gillard (groin), Parramatta coach Brad Arthur needed his lesser-known troops to stand up.
Makahesi Makatoa threw his weight around and fellow front-rower Wiremu Greig was able to draw the Eels back level, crashing in on the 18-minute mark as he enjoyed one of his best first-grade showings to date.
The scores were level at 6-6 for the next 40 minutes, with Parramatta having two Sean Russell efforts chalked off.
The Cowboys looked like they might be able to withstand the barrage of Eels’ attacks until Maika Sivo barged over in the corner.
Moses’ kicking game had suffocated the Cowboys and forced them to bring the ball out of their own end.
Moses converted Sivo’s try from the left-hand touchline, repeating the trick when Russell slid in for a 63rd-minute touchdown on the other flank.
Feldt scored two tries in the final 10 minutes to send the game down to the wire, before Moses jinked his way over to seal the win for the Eels.