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

Cowboys coach Todd Payten says North Queensland was taught a finals lesson following their heartbreaking 24-20 loss to Parramatta on Friday night.

The Eels ended North Queensland’s fairytale season with a gripping preliminary final win at a sold-out Queensland Country Bank Stadium.

It brought an end to a remarkable resurrection for the Cowboys, who finished 15th last year and rocketed into this year’s final four.

The Cowboys were well in the contest in typical Townsville heat, but couldn’t seal the game as Parramatta tackled themselves to their first grand final appearance since 2019.

“To be 12-all at halftime after having Jason (Taumalolo) in the bin was a great effort,” Payten said.

“Parramatta played finals footy. The way they managed that second half was much better than us.

“The way they scrambled was better. That’s the difference between a win and a loss.

“We let in a couple of soft tries which turned the momentum of the game. We kept fighting hard.”

After finishing third in the regular season, the Cowboys produced a thrilling golden point win in week one of the finals to bring a preliminary final to Townsville for the first time.

They got off to a poor start when referee Grant Atkins failed to pick up a Mitchell Moses forward pass and then had Taumalolo binned for a high tackle.

But the Cowboys hung on and got into an arm wrestle with the Eels.

If not for some poor plays in the second half, they could have been preparing for a third grand final in eight years.

Instead, the Cowboys will begin planning their 2023 premiership assault with what will be a red-hot team.

Co-captain Chad Townsend said the Cowboys just couldn’t get the job done against the experienced and desperate Eels.

“We were losing the field position battle a little bit,” he said.

“We hung in there and gave ourselves a chance at the end.

“There’s a lot of heartbreak and disappointed. The guys had an incredible season.

“We’ve trained hard, enjoyed each other’s company, and gave ourselves a chance to compete.

“We’re disappointed because of the opportunity we had. That’s the thing that’s the hardest at the moment.”

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

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