A post-match spray from co-captain Johnathan Thurston produced the desired results as the Cowboys bounced back from a three-match losing streak to defeat the Knights 28-2 in Townsville on Monday night.
Following their one-point loss to the table-topping Titans in Round 4 Thurston gathered his players on the field and in no uncertain terms laid out exactly what he expected from them in the weeks ahead.
With their ears still ringing upon their return to North Queensland, fellow co-captain Matt Scott admitted that hearing the impassioned plea from their inspirational five-eighth sparked the Cowboys players into action.
"We certainly trained better during the week but it's been a lead-up of three weeks of 'Greeny' (Cowboys coach Paul Green) saying it, the assistant coaches saying it," Scott said.
"We were all saying the same things but the reaction wasn't there and I think it finally hit home that we had to change what we were doing. We had a really good week with the footy, focused on holding the ball and getting through our sets and we did that [on Monday night]."
With 30 completed sets from 37 and a dominant share of both territory and possession the Cowboys were able to dictate terms after absorbing an early Newcastle onslaught.
Thurston's supporting playmakers in Robert Lui and Michael Morgan delivered their best individual performances of the season as the Cowboys scored 28 unanswered points and kept a side scoreless who had racked up 30 points one week prior.
"We talk about playing for 80 minutes and not letting the scoreboard influence the way we play and I thought that was a key thing for us tonight," said Green. "We had pride in our line and it didn't matter if it was the first minute or the last minute, we were determined not to let them score.
"Across the team our effort was better, particularly in attack. We had more energy, more enthusiasm, more push on the ball... We didn't change anything that we'd been doing in recent weeks but we managed to show some discipline with the footy and that was the key thing for us."
"Tonight was a step in the right direction of how we want to play. That was the main thing we'll get out of tonight and it's about replicating that performance."
The time and space afforded the Cowboys backline was built upon the work up front by Scott (133 metres, 20 tackles), Tariq Sims (151m, 28 tackles) and James Tamou (131m, 20 tackles) but with a tough away trip against the Wests Tigers at Campbelltown on Saturday Scott warned against declaring that North Queensland had discovered their groove.
"You can't say after one game. Like Greeny said it's a step in the right direction," Scott said.
"It's a long year and we're only just starting to move where we want to move and we've got a lot of work to get to where we want to be, certainly a lot of improvement left."