Kieran Foran has celebrated his first game for Parramatta, with the Eels scoring a stirring 20-16 NRL upset win over an error-riddled North Queensland.
The Cowboys on Saturday night were a shadow of the side who lifted last year’s trophy, producing one of their worst performances in 12 months with an uncharacteristically jittery outing with the ball and ill-discipline in defence.
They completed just 63 per cent of their sets, turned the ball over 10 times and gave away nine penalties.
A vocal crowd of 12,194 witnessed Foran’s first outing in club colours and, while he took more than an hour to take his first run with the ball, he finished strongly and played a hand in two of their three tries.
However, the victory was soured by a possible broken forearm to hooker Nathan Peats, who immediately left the field after a heavy collision with Jason Taumalolo in the second half.
Up 14-6 at the break courtesy of a Kenny Edwards’ try – set up by Foran – on the stroke of halftime, the Cowboys’ Justin O’Neill reduced the deficit to four off a Johnathan Thurston pass early in the second half.
But that was one of the rare times the Cowboys entered the Eels’ zone, with numerous attacking raids brought undone by a decisive and energetic Parramatta defence.
At one stage in the second half, Parramatta prop Junior Paulo rocked Thurston with a hit that shook Pirtek Stadium and lifted his teammates to another gear.
A crashing try to Brad Takairangi in the 62nd minute – also assisted by Foran – kicked their lead out to 10 before Taumalolo crashed over in the final minute to set up a grandstand finish.
But the Eels’ defence held on, scoring what could be a season-defining win.
Parramatta’s Manu Ma’u was put on report for a high shot on Cowboys winger Kyle Feldt in the 48th minute, while Matt Scott could also be in trouble for a crusher tackle on Edwards in the 54th.