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NRL Finals: Cowboys say they were taught a lesson by Eels coach Todd Payten

The Eels capped North Queensland’s fairytale season with a commanding win in the final qualifying match at the sold-out Queensland Country Bank Stadium.

It put an end to a notable comeback for the Cowboys, who shot up to the Top 4 this year after finishing in 15th place last year.

The Cowboys entered the contest well in typical Townsville heat, but were unable to seal the game as Parramatta wrestled for their first Grand Finals appearance since 2019.

“It was a huge effort to go 12-12 at halftime after binning Jason (Tauma Marolo),” said Payten.

“Parramatta played footy in the final. The way they managed the second half was much better than ours.

“Their scrambling method was better. That’s the difference between winning and losing.

“We allowed some soft tries that changed the momentum of the game. We kept fighting hard.”

After finishing third in the regular season, the Cowboys scored a thrilling golden point in Week 1 of the Finals to bring Townsville to the Qualifying Finals for the first time.

They got off to a bad start when referee Grant Atkins failed to pick up Mitchell Moses’ forward pass and Tauma Marolo was binned for a high tackle.

But the cowboy held on and arm-wrestled with the eel.

If it weren’t for some bad plays in the second half, they might have been preparing for their third Grand Final in eight years.

Instead, the Cowboys will begin planning their 2023 premiership offense and become a red-hot team.

Vice-captain Chad Townsend said the Cowboys weren’t up to the task against the experienced and desperate Eels.

“I was losing the battle for field position a little bit,” he said.

“We persevered and gave it a chance at the end.

“Lots of heartbreak and disappointment. The guys have had an incredible season.

“We trained hard, enjoyed each other’s company and gave us the opportunity to compete.

“I’m disappointed because it was a great opportunity. That’s the hardest thing at the moment.”

first published as NRL 2022: Todd Payten says Cowboys taught finals lesson by Parramatta Eels

NRL Finals: Cowboys say they were taught a lesson by Eels coach Todd Payten

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