Cowboys hammer Eels in NRL romp

·3-min read

Todd Payten has labelled his side's 35-4 rout of Parramatta in Darwin one of his best as a coach as North Queensland jumped up to third on the NRL ladder.

After having the worst defensive record in the competition last year, it was the Cowboys' defence that laid the platform for victory on Saturday as the Eels were held scoreless in the first half for the first time this season.

Three tries in the final five minutes put the icing on North Queensland's six-try night, with the returning Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow instrumental in his 15-minute return from injury.

"It's right up there, yeah," Payten said after the Cowboys held their opposition to just one try for the fourth time this season.

"We've got a couple of good ones this year.

"But given we played a top-four team tonight in really tough conditions.

"They had a lot of ball in that first 20 minute period of the game and won the game on the back foot on the back of our defence ... I'm pretty pleased."

Tabuai-Fidow registered 138 run metres in his cameo while Scott Drinkwater starred at fullback with three try assists before his own four-pointer.

"Its a great headache to have," Payten said on finding room for the pair in the Cowboys' best line-up.

Tabuai-Fidow was a late inclusion to the interchange after a PCL tear has sidelined him from round four.

But his involvement and speed in two of their final three tries leaves the Cowboys with a big decision on how they shape up as the season progresses.

Their triple delight in the final minutes heaved misery on the exhausted Eels, as Tom Dearden found the line before Tabuai-Fidow linked up with Drinkwater to cross.

The favour was reciprocated in the final minute as the Cowboys shifted right from the kick-off and Tabuai-Fidow and Drinkwater combined, with the latter kicking for himself to score and cap off the best 80 minutes of North Queensland's season.

Kyle Fedlt bagged his hat-trick early in the second half after crossing twice in the opening stanza as the Cowboys ran riot, despite a game in which they had just 36 per cent of the territory.

Hayze Perham put a tough night in defence behind him to score the Eels' only points in the 63rd minute.

Brad Arthur's side enjoyed 67 per cent possession in the first 10 minutes with seven play the balls inside the Cowboys 20m.

Yet Valentine Holmes kicked his side in front with a penalty before Feldt scored the only two tries in the first 40 half.

Holmes then slotted a 35-metre field goal on the siren to give the Cowboys a 15-0 lead at the break.

With their dominant defensive effort, North Queensland (12) only trail competition leaders Penrith (11) in points allowed per game.

Parramatta slid from third to fifth, swapping places with the Cowboys, with Cronulla fourth, all three have a 5-3 win-loss record.

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