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Electric Parramatta Eels smoke North Queensland

Coen Hess of the Cowboys looks dejected after losing to the Eels.

THE North Queensland Cowboys will be hoping a number of injured stars make a speedy return, after they were humbled by the Parramatta Eels in Townsville.

Channel Nine commentator Andrew Johns said the Cowboys were simply never in the contest against a rampaging Eels, who dominated the ruck throughout, on their way to a commanding 26-6 win.

“No JT, No Matthew Scott, No Jake Granville, No Lachlan Coote. The thing is if you don’t have your best players out there it’s so hard to win,” Johns said.

“They were gallant tonight, they had a crack, but Parramatta could have put forty on them tonight.”

Despite a host of names missing for Paul Green’s men, there’s no denying who they will be crying out for the most — their star half Johnathan Thurston.

Thurston was expected to line up against the Eels but was a last minute withdrawal, as he continues to struggle with a calf injury.

The halfback now is doubtful for next week’s Anzac Test against New Zealand. It’s unlikely the club will take any risks with Thurston, given how important he is to the Cowboys.

“They just lacked class at the important times and Thurston makes the players around him better players,” Johns said.

“Michael Morgan when Thurston is out there can do other things, and he looks such a different player.

“On the left he (Thurston) brings Gavin Cooper into play, we didn’t see Gavin Cooper tonight, because Thurston’s not out there. Likewise, (Jason) Taumololo he usually gets on the back of Matt Scott, so when Scott’s not there Taumololo has to do all the donkey work to start with.

“It’s just so hard without your best players.”

Eels players celebrate another try.

North Queensland have now dropped three of their six home games this season and their night went from bad to worse when stand-in skipper Gavin Cooper appeared to injure his shoulder in the dying minutes of the contest.

Corey Norman was again instrumental for a red hot Parramatta outfit while fullback Clint Gutherson bagged two tries and was a perfect four form four with the boot in the Eels’ dominant display.

Eels firebrand Tepai Moeroa was denied a try by the video referee after just four minutes but it was only a short reprieve for the Cowboys as Gutherson produced an acrobatic finish to open Parramatta’s account minutes later.

While Parramatta looked dangerous on every play the Cowboys never got out of first gear as error after error cruelled any attacking opportunities for the hosts.

Thurston’s absence was again sorely missed as makeshift halves pairing Morgan and John Asiata struggled mightily with their kicking game.

Michael Jennings race away. Source:News Corp Australia

The Eels continued to enjoy the majority of possession and they made the Cowboys pay when star centre Michael Jennings tore the Cowboys defence to shreds and he found Gutherson to complete his double and helping Parramatta to a 14-0 halftime lead.

North Queensland’s woeful handling returned early in the second half and the on- song Eels quickly made them pay when debuting half Will Smith dashed over for a soft try minutes later.

The Cowboys finally showed some signs of life when winger Antonio Winterstein pounced on a grubber in the 64th minute but a comeback never looked likely and Eels captain Tim Mannah’s late try wrapped up the game.

W — AAP