Cowboys slip up against Eels, Raiders edge out Roosters


Reigning NRL premiers North Queensland Cowboys suffered a first defeat in 2016 as Parramatta Eels ran out 20-16 winners at Pirtek Stadium.

North Queensland followed up their World Club Challenge victory over Leeds Rhinos by edging out Cronulla Sharks in round one of the NRL season, but the Cowboys made to pay for an error-strewn performance on Saturday.

The only downside for the Eels, who handed a debut to marquee signing Kieran Foran, was an elbow injury to hooker Nathan Peats - the scorer of their first try - although the club swiftly announced he had avoided a fracture.

Kenny Edwards and Brad Takairangi also crossed as Parramatta opened up a 10-point advantage despite tries from the in-form Ethan Lowe and Justin O'Neill.

Jason Taumalolo's late score set up a nervy finish, but the Eels were not to be denied.

Saturday's earlier matches brought contrasting fortunes for Sydney Roosters and South Sydney Rabbitohs.

The Roosters blew a 10-point interval lead to lose 21-20 against the injury-hit Canberra Raiders - Sam Williams' late drop goal settling the encounter after a superb 40/20 from Josh Hodgson had given the hosts field position.

Josh Papalii had claimed two second-half tries to get the Raiders back into the game and, although Jayden Nikorima stormed through a gap for the Roosters' fourth score, a converted Jarrod Croker touchdown set up the thrilling finale that saw Williams emerge as the match-winner.

Canberra will await news on Shaun Fensom, who was concussed in the opening set of the match.

Aaron Gray's first-half hat-trick helped the Rabbitohs follow up last week's 42-10 thrashing of the Roosters with another emphatic win - Michael Maguire's men running in nine tries to thump Newcastle Knights 48-6.

Bryson Goodwin and Alex Johnston each crossed twice for the Bunnies, the former also landing six goals.