Eels eye second Cowboys NRL upset

Searching for a weakness in North Queensland’s NRL side is a bit like trying to find fault with the Mona Lisa.

That’s why Parramatta coach Brad Arthur isn’t bothering.

“It’s very hard,” he said.

“We need to focus on being at our best.”

Both the Cowboys and the Eels are looking inward ahead of their meeting on Saturday night at Townsville’s 1300Smiles Stadium.

It will be the second clash between the two sides already this season, with the Eels having upset last year’s NRL premiers in a 20-16 win at Pirtek Stadium back in round two.

With Parramatta surging to fourth on the ladder and keen to prove they are the real deal, for Arthur it’s all about repeating the dosage – and for his counterpart Paul Green, making sure North Queensland don’t make the same mistakes again.

“You don’t change too much of how you play from week to week and the last two weeks we’ve focused on our completions and it will be no different tomorrow night,” Arthur said.

“We can’t really control too much of what they do. It’s what we do and for the last two weeks we have completed at above 80 per cent and we’ve scored 58 points and only conceded 16.

“So if we can complete at a high percentage and try and get 50-50 possession against them, we’ll give ourselves a chance.

“But I think they’ve been averaging around 58, 60 per cent of possession in home games and if you (let them) do that, you’re just asking for trouble.”

North Queensland completed just 63 per cent of their sets when they last faced Parramatta – their worst ball-handling effort of the year in Green’s estimation.

He believes the Eels will be an even greater threat this time around now that off-season recruit Kieran Foran is more settled in the team.

“The guys around him are probably (more) used to playing with him also. Those combinations are getting better and better every week,” Green said.

“There’s more threats across the park, they’re more comfortable in falling back into shape.

“We’ll have our hands full trying to handle those guys in particular.”

Both sides go in unchanged, with the Eels having retained the same 17 for the last three games.


* The Cowboys have won eight of the past nine matches between these two sides in Townsville, including the past four, scoring at least 40 points in all four matches.

* North Queensland have begun the season with four straight wins in Townsville. They have never won their first five home games of a season.

* Going back to last season the Eels have now won their past four away games. They have not won five consecutive away matches at any stage since 2006.

* All Offers and Promotions posted in this article excludes NSW residents.
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