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Coote stars as Cowboys beat Eels in NRL

NZN 23/04/2016

Lachlan Coote has put his hand up for a maiden NSW State of Origin jersey after leading North Queensland to a 32-16 NRL win over fellow title contenders Parramatta.

The off-contract Cowboys' custodian scored one try and saved another two on Saturday as the Townsville side maintained second spot on the ladder with a strong victory in front of 19,308 at 1300SMILES Stadium.

The fourth-placed Eels travelled to far North Queensland with high hopes but the Cowboys held off a second-half fightback to confirm themselves as premiership front-runners along with Brisbane.

While the score was a blowout in the end, it did not reflect the strength of the Eels' performance, with the Cowboys continuing their unbeaten run at home in 2016.

Coote was a standout in the opening stanza as the home side jumped out to a 14-0 lead at the break.

After combining nicely with Michael Morgan and pulling off two huge plays to deny Eels four-pointers, including a gutsy tackle on prop Danny Wicks, calls grew louder for Coote to be named the NSW No.1 ahead of James Tedesco and Josh Dugan.

The Eels stormed back into the contest after the break when Semi Radradra grabbed a double in the space of nine minutes before a Michael Jennings length-of-the field effort evened the scores.

However, the Eels were the victims of their own ill discipline, with the sin-binning of five-eighth Corey Norman for a professional foul in the 66th minute proving the turning point.

Johnathan Thurston took advantage of the Eels' 12-man defensive line to send Antonio Winterstein over before Morgan sealed it with a late double.

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