Parramatta’s Jarryd Hayne has celebrated his anticipated injury comeback in style, scoring two tries and playing a hand in a third in the Eels’ 20-14 NRL win over North Queensland in Darwin.
Playing his first match since round seven, a sharp Hayne showed no ill effects of the problematic hamstring injury that had limited him to just four games in his return to Parramatta.
But more importantly, the code-hopper was involved in three of the Eels’ four tries on Saturday night as the bottom-placed outfit snapped a five-game losing streak.
The defeat for Cowboys, who were twice denied tries due to questionable forward-pass calls, all but extinguishes the playoff hopes of last year’s grand finalists in Johnathan Thurston’s farewell year.
Cowboys coach Paul Green opted to rest star Michael Morgan, but it mattered little as his side completed just 58 per cent of their sets.
Parramatta were leading by four points with half-an-hour to go when Hayne soared to take a Corey Norman kick for his second try of the night.
Cowboys second-rower Gavin Cooper appeared to have levelled the scores only for the referee to controversially rule Thurston’s pass forward in the 59th minute.
Kyle Feldt bombed a certain try off a Thurston kick not long after.
Eels centre Michael Jennings sealed the win when Cowboys fullback Lachlan Coote fumbled a regulation Clint Gutherson bomb in the 69th minute.
Cowboys pair Matt Scott and Enari Tuala crossed in the final two minutes, but it was little consolation for a side needing to win their remaining 11 games to reach the traditional 30-point finals mark.
Parramatta started the stronger at TIO Stadium, with Norman twice forcing line dropouts before Hayne earned a penalty and powered his way over from the ensuing quick tap.
Feldt was then denied a try by another dubious forward pass ruling, while Michael Jennings also duffed a certain four-pointer of his own.
However, Feldt made no mistake with his next chance, scoring a trademark try in the corner to ensure scores were level at 4-4 at halftime.
Eels forward Sosaia Vave was put on report for a possible cannonball tackle on Cowboys winger Antonio Winterstein early in the second half.
* All Offers and Promotions posted in this article excludes NSW residents.