Cowboys oust Eels to keep Grand Final dream alive
North Queensland Cowboys kept their premiership dream alive with a strong second-half showing bringing them back from behind to beat Parramatta Eels 24-16 in the second NRL semi-final at ANZ Stadium.
The Cowboys scraped into the Finals despite the absences of Johnathan Thurston and Matt Scott, who will not feature again this season, but remain on track for a return to the Grand Final after dumping the Eels out.
The 2015 premiers trailed by four points at half-time but scores from John Asiata, Coen Hess and Michael Morgan in the second period set up a preliminary final with Sydney Roosters.
Parramatta got off to a storming start when Semi Radradra plucked down a high kick on his own try line and sprinted the length of the pitch to sensationally touch down.
Kyle Feldt somehow grounded in the right corner despite Brad Takairangi's best efforts to drag him into touch, but the Eels went into the break ahead when Will Smith blocked Morgan's attempted grubber kick and charged home from 75 metres.
The Cowboys turned it around when Asiata ripped the ball away from Smith for his first NRL try, before Te Maire Martin's excellent offload enabled Hess to get on the board in the 52nd minute - Cameron King sparking a melee by sliding into the North Queensland youngster after he put the ball down.
Morgan powered through a gap in the line to put the result beyond doubt, with Michael Jennings' late score proving scant consolation as Parramatta's first Finals appearance since 2009 ended at the semi-final stage.