No Moses, no problem for super Eels

Maika Sivo grabbed four tries as the Eels beat the Cowboys 42-4 in the NRL.
Maika Sivo grabbed four tries as the Eels beat the Cowboys 42-4 in the NRL.

Parramatta proved they are no one-man NRL team with a comprehensive 42-4 win over North Queensland at Bankwest Stadium on Friday night.

With halfback Mitch Moses sidelined the Eels could have been excused for a dip in attack, but instead ran in seven tries including four for wing sensation Maika Sivo.

Before the game Moses led the NRL for forced drop outs this season with nine, and his kicking game has been crucial to the Eels sitting first on the ladder for seven weeks.

Without him, the Eels were expected to struggle.

Early signs were troubling when replacement Jai Field's first kick at the end of the opening set went awry, gifting the Cowboys possession on their own 40-metre line.

But that is where the trouble stopped for the Eels.

As Moses watched on, skipper Clint Gutherson stood up to deliver three tries through deft passing - the first two within the opening 22 minutes - and nail six conversions and a penalty goal in his 100th NRL game.

Five-eighth Dylan Brown was handed ownership of the team's attack and showed maturity beyond his 20 years to not overplay his hand.

Two bombs from Brown resulted in tries - the second just a minute after halftime for Field to show blistering speed as he scored his first try for the club.

Unsurprisingly, Sivo struck the killer blows with three tries in 23 minutes at the end of the second half, put over off passes from Gutherson, Brown and Brad Takairangi close to the line.

When added to his try in the 22nd minute, he became the first Eels player to score four tries in a match since cult hero Semi Radradra in 2017.

To the delight of 6730 fans on Friday night, the sight of Sivo crossing the line is becoming a regular one - he has scored 19 tries in 17 games at Bankwest Stadium.

"It was important that we showed our captain what we think of him, number one," said Eels coach Brad Arthur.

"And what was important was not so much the win, but our attitude each week.

"I keep saying sometimes that's going to be good enough and sometimes it's not but we don't want to beat ourselves and we don't want to get beat because we've got a bad attitude."

While the Eels ran riot in front of fans for the first time since round one, the Cowboys were unsaddled early and never recovered.

It was the first match back for fullback Valentine Holmes from an ankle injury after two weeks on the sidelines.

But six days after defeating Newcastle 32-20, the Cowboys could not keep pace with an Eels outfit that looked hungrier, faster and more resolute in defence.

"It's a little bit of two steps forward, one step backwards," said coach Paul Green.

"The difference between our good and our bad is ... we've got to narrow that gap."

It is the fourth loss in five games for the Cowboys who will host NRL premiers the Roosters in Townsville next week.

Meanwhile, the Eels retain top spot on the NRL ladder and face Newcastle in round nine as they bid to build on their strong start.

Australian Associated Press