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Monday, May 29, 2023

Parramatta Eels down North Queensland Cowboys 24-16 at CommBank Stadium to keep finals hopes alive

The moment word leaks out Brad Fittler has parachuted some player in from nowhere to land on his bare feet in Blues camp – hello, Tevita Pangai jnr – the next six weeks of NRL monotony can’t end soon enough.

Payne Haas’ ankle being hurt in training is big news, and Joe Ofahengaue’s calf pinging a handful of minutes after a controversial mid-season switch barely registers. Todd Payten had his Cowboys side one win away from a grand final last year and they had 66 put on them by the Tigers last week, but hey, look what Fittler is going to do with Nicho Hynes on the bench. Jarome Luai is a pantomime villain, charitable, a grub, greatness, but let’s not worry about Dylan Brown felling Chad Townsend like a weekend tree lopper for try save of the season.

Even fans vote with their feet. Parramatta has one State of Origin representative, Junior Paulo, and the greying upper decks of CommBank Stadium would lead you to believe they had half a team on representative duty. Sure, the interstate Cowboys don’t help.

But it’s the time of year we’re all a slave to Origin.

Parramatta beat North Queensland 24-16 on Friday night.

Maika Sivo scored at CommBank Stadium because that’s what he does, and even the Sivo, Sivo chant was belated to start, almost forced, and lacking its usual vigour. Much like the NRL feels like it has to keep playing around the Origin behemoth, so the crowd felt compelled to find a little voice when their Fijian touched down.

Mitchell Moses forces his way over for a late try to seal Parramatta’s victory.

Mitchell Moses forces his way over for a late try to seal Parramatta’s victory.Credit: Getty

Despite fielding an entirely new forward pack to the one which started last year’s grand final, the Eels still had their seven, six and one. They weren’t great, but they are good enough to win games at this time of year.

The best Mitchell Moses and Clint Gutherson looked in sync was when they chased and waved at referee Liam Kennedy to dispute a decision in the second half, the type usually known to be European soccer blowhards who ringfence any poor bloke with a whistle.

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