Parramatta Eel’s credentials as a true premiership contender were tested in the absence of Mitchell Moses, as they faced a North Queensland Cowboys side who had Valentine Holmes returning.
The opening five minutes belonged to the Cowboys as they trapped the Eels inside their own half.
This resulting in Tom Opacic crossing the line in the 6th minute, but the centre was held up by a number of Parramatta players.
After sustaining plenty of defensive pressure, the Eels forced a goal-line drop out of their own in the tenth minute, and the resulting set ending in Michael Jennings crossing for a try.
Clint Gutherson isolated Esan Marsters in the defensive line, which forced Kyle Feldt to step inside, and the full-back threw a flat pass to Michael Jennings who walked in from ten-metres to score, after stepping outside of Feldt to claim the ball.
Just after the 20th minute, the Eels crossed once more on the left-hand edge.
Once again, Brown shifted the ball to Gutherson, who threw another cut-out pass, to Maika Sivo who dived over in the corner to score after the Cowboys defence shifted inside to Jennings, who was the dummy-runner.
After a good opening, the Cowboys capitulated after half an hour gone, as Dylan Browns kick over to the right edge was claimed by Waqa Blake ahead of Opacic, who dropped over the goal-line to score try number three.
North Queensland managed to turn the game into a midfield battle for the next stage of the game, but after a big run from Justin O’Neill and Josh McGuire, it gave Robson and Clifford to attack the short side, with Tom Opacic the recipient of a short-ball to crash through the Eels defence for a score.
Kyle Feldt missed the touchline conversion, and the Eels lead at the break.
HALF-TIME: Parramatta Eels 16-4 North Queensland Cowboys
With the Cowboys beginning the fightback towards the end of the first half, the Eels were determined to show they were the superior side as Dylan Brown’s kick was tapped back by Blake, into the arms of Jai Field, who raced into the corner to score.
The Cowboys should have hit back five minutes later, as Drinkwater attacked the line and his cut-out pass to Justin O’Neill floated perfectly but the winger failed the grab the ball with Ferguson closing in, and the Eels were lucky not to concede.
Within minutes, the Eels showed their clinical edge, as a Gutherson received the ball at first receiver and spun the ball out wide to Sivo who pushed off Kyle Feldt with ease to touch down in the corner.
With just over an hour gone, the Eels began to put the cherry on top of the cake, as the ball was once again shifted left from midfield, and Dylan Brown’s inch-perfect pass landed in the hands of Maika Sivo who walked in for his hat-trick.
The seventh try for Parramatta quickly followed. This time, after a set restart, Brown moved the ball to the short side through Dylan Brown, onto Brad Takairangi who tipped the ball onto Sivo who scored an easy fourth.
With just a few minutes left on the clock, the Eels were awarded a penalty at the ruck after interference by Josh McGuire in front of the posts.
This allowed Gutherson to add the two points to make it 42-4 with 40 seconds left.
The Eels ended the game with ball in hand, and in the final seconds Reed Mahoney took the tackle for the final whistle.
FULL-TIME: Parramatta Eels 42-4 North Queensland Cowboys
Gutherson, Sivo, Jennings, Blake, Ferguson, Brown, Field, Campbell-Gillard, Mahoney, Paulo, Lane, Matterson, Niukore
Interchanges: Stone, Gower, Kaufusi, Takairangi
Tries: Jennings, Sivo (4), Blake, Field
Goals: Gutherson (7/8)
North Queensland Cowboys
Holmes, Feldt, Opacic, Marsters, O’Neill, Drinkwater, Clifford, McGuire, Robson, Molo, Wright, Hess, Taumalolo
Interchanges: Hampton, Cooper, Hola, Cotter
Goals: Feldt (0/1)
Referee: B. Cummins
Touch Judges: T. Roby, Z. Przeklasa-Adamski
Video Referee: B. Norrie
Image Source: @TheParraEels (Twitter)