Eels ease pressure on Arthur with crucial win over Cowboys despite Lussick’s bizarre ‘doozy’ of a blunder


Parramatta eased the pressure on coach Brad Arthur with an upset 27-20 win over the Cowboys at CommBank Stadium on Saturday night despite an embarrassing blunder from hooker Joey Lussick which cost them a certain try.

Speculation has started to swirl about Arthur’s long-term future as Eels coach with Wayne Bennett tossed up as a potential replacement and the rumour mill cranked up further after last Sunday’s 41-8 flogging in Canberra.

But the Eels rallied after a poor start against North Queensland to post their third win from six starts and avoid a three-game losing streak on the back of their Easter Monday defeat to the Wests Tigers.

Arthur opted to stick with Dylan Brown at halfback, promoting Daejarn Asi alongside him after dumping rookie Blaize Talagi and the move paid dividends with their attack more settled and potent than their effort against the Raiders. Asi iced the game with a late field goal after scoring a crucial second-half try.

Offloads galore! ????

???? Watch #NRLEelsCowboys on ch.502 or stream on Kayo:

— Fox League (@FOXNRL) April 13, 2024

They could have recorded a more comfortable win if not for Lussick’s brain snap in the 55th minute.

The hooker was awarded a try after the Cowboys fumbled a short line drop-out but the Bunker correctly ruled he had failed to stand onside for the kick when it was launched from the goal line.

All he needed to do was stand behind the 10-metre line for the drop-out but he made one of the most basic errors a player could make on a rugby league field.

“We’ve seen some doozies this year but that just takes the cake,” Fox League analyst Michael Ennis remarked as Arthur placed his head in his hands in the coach’s box.

The Cowboys dominated the early exchanges and it only took four minutes for them to put points on the board when Maroons forward Jeremiah Nanai reeled in a Scott Drinkwater high kick – it was the 14th time he’d scored a try from a kick in the 27 he has notched up in his young career.

Parra levelled by the 10th minute when Joe Ofahengaue crashed over from close range and led 8-6 in the 16th minute after Jason Taumalolo was put on report for a crusher tackle on J’maine Hopgood.

North Queensland regained the lead by the mid point of the first half when centre Tom Chester, brought into the starting side after Zac Laybutt’s ACL tear last week, celebrated his promotion by scoring out wide after Drinkwater danced past a couple of defenders.

After narrowly denying Murray Taulagi from scoring, the Eels went 14-10 up in the 26th minute when Lussick latched onto the end of a brilliant Will Penisini pass to fall over the stripe.

The Eels were up by 10 five minutes into the second stanza when Morgan Harper sprinted past Drinkwater and Chad Townsend to win the race to a Dylan Brown grubber.

“That is an outrageous try!” ????

The Cowboys are back in this!

???? Watch #NRLEelsCowboys on ch.502 or stream on Kayo:

— Fox League (@FOXNRL) April 13, 2024

North Queensland hit back when Tom Dearden sent Valentine Holmes over out wide to cut the gap to six but Parra should have doubled their lead only for Lussick’s offside blunder to deny them an extended buffer.

He was the most relieved Eel at CommBank Stadium in the 62nd minute when Clint Gutherson scooted out of dummy-half for Asi to slide over next to the posts.

The Cowboys shot back into the contest with 10 minutes remaining when Townsend was forced to fling the ball wide after being unable to kick on the last play of a set and Taulagi ended up delivering Drinkwater an unchallenged run to the stripe.

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