Maika Sivo scored four tries as a dominant Parramatta Eels restored their two-point lead at the top of the NRL with a thumping of North Queensland Cowboys.
With full-back Clinton Gutherson and half-back Dylan Brown in top form, the Eels proved an unstoppable force as they continued their remarkable start to the season.
Gutherson leads from the front
The Cowboys came out fired up and put Parramatta under the pump in the opening minutes. They earned multiple repeat sets and both Justin O’Neill and Coen Hess were held up over the line, but they just couldn’t beat the defence.
That allowed the Eels to take control, with captain Gutherson taking charge from full-back. For the opening try he flicked a wonderful pass out for Michael Jennings to run clear on the left, before cutting through again on the same side with the cut-out pass this time hitting Sivo for a 10-0 lead.
More chances were passed up in between but their momentum continued as their speed in the ruck and with the ball had North Queensland scrambling in all directions. Brown’s kick brought a third try as Tom Opacic was brushed off by Waqa Blake in the air, with the video replays showing it was a fair challenge.
Gutherson was key as Parramatta’s last line of defence too, bringing a halt to O’Neill’s run down the wing, but the Cowboys went into the break with some hope as Opacic charged onto Scott Drinkwater’s pass to finally get them on the board.
Sivo rampage for relentless Eels
North Queensland needed to repeat the kind of aggressive start made in the first half, but instead their hopes of a comeback were evaporated within 60 seconds of the restart. A Brown bomb was tapped back by Blake into the hands of Jai Field, and the half-back found the route to the corner and squeezed in.
The visitors must have known it wasn’t to be their day when they failed to secure a certain try having worked the space down the left, with the final pass slipping through the hands of O’Neill. Instead the Eels inflicted further damage, with Gutherson breaking initially from Blake’s offload before later arrowing yet another cut-out ball to the left wing for Sivo to score his second.
With Gutherson adding both conversions too, it was 28-4 with half an hour still to go. That proved plenty of time for Sivo to cause more havoc, getting his hat-trick when Brown this time provided the lofted pass that allowed the Fijian to power into the corner.
And he wasn’t done there, making it four tries with another Brown pass knocked on to him by Shaun Lane. Gutherson’s boot proved as good as his hands, converting all four second-half tries from right on the touchlines, plus a late penalty.