North Queensland are confident they've rediscovered their winning formula after a thrilling 18-17 golden point victory over Melbourne on Monday night, but will always have that performance to look back on if things turn pear-shaped again this season.
It was not just about scratching the winner’s column for the first time, it was the way the Cowboys came back from a double-digit deficit against the Storm, who are one of the league’s all-time best frontrunners.
In the 73 games they have led by 12 or more at half time under coach Craig Bellamy, the Storm have gone on to win all but one – a loss against the Titans in 2010 – before Monday night.
After a brilliant first 40 minutes in which they went into the sheds up 16-4, Melbourne were overrun by a home side hell-bent on sparking life into a season that was quickly slipping away.
“Last night was a good place to go back to if ever we start doubting ourselves,” coach Paul Green said on Tuesday.
“With each loss the confidence just chips away, so we just had to get back to believing we were a good team.
“I said from the start that you don’t forget how to play and we just needed to remember the good parts and last night was one of the best wins that I’ve been involved in. It just showed a hell of a lot of ticker to come back and get a win against a good team.”
It was a tale of two halves as the Cowboys ran rampant led by Johnathan Thurston, whose performance Green summed up in one word: competitive.
“That’s 'JT', that’s when he’s at his best. He’s leading kick-chases, he’s tackling well and I thought he just refused to lose last night and it was great to see, I was really happy for him,” Green said.
The Cowboys’ next task is another Monday night game against a hungry Penrith side who are back home after losing two games in a row.
The Panthers will be boosted by the addition of livewire dummy-half and former Cowboy James Segeyaro after he missed his side's loss to the Knights with a lip injury.
“They will be desperate, they’ve had two losses. I know what that feels like so they will be pretty hungry for a win,” Green said.
“They’re a big team, they’ll be physical. They’re playing at home in front of their home fans.”
Green said Tuesday that he had little time to assess player performance, but is hesitant to change a winning combination.
Their only provisional change for next Monday is the inclusion of second-rower Kelepi Tanginoa on an extended interchange bench alongside the man who replaced him in Round 4, prop John Asiata.