Cowboys co-captain Johnathan Thurston says his side has turned a corner after their disastrous 0-3 start to the year – however next Monday night's clash against South Sydney will be the big test.
After breaking through for their first victory of the season last week, North Queensland made it back-to-back wins with a dominant 30-10 win over Penrith on Easter Monday.
"It was a real poor start to the year but obviously we've turned the corner so to speak," Thurston said post-game.
"It's very hard to get two points in this competition and if you're only five per cent off, you'll get dusted up and that's what happened the first three weeks."
However the real proof will come in next week's clash against the defending premiers, who will be buoyed by their dramatic grand final re-match win over the Bulldogs.
"It doesn't get any bigger than coming up against the reigning premiers. So that'll be a good test for us to see where we're at as a side," Thurston said.
"That's the challenge for us there. Obviously they're a very big pack, they roll through the middle third and Issac Luke plays off the back of it. We've got our hands full next week."
One week after the Queensland and Australia representative single-handedly stole the points against Melbourne, Thurston was again the star of the show, playing a hand in all five of his side's tries on Monday night.
"Yeah, it was a top class performance," coach Paul Green said. "Obviously everyone sees the tries and try assists and things like that, but there was some really tough efforts, when the game was in balance when we were trading sets.
"He was kicking and leading, really put them under the pump down there. There's some real big plays there, off the ball that not everyone sees. But yeah, he was very good tonight."
Winger Matt Wright netted just the second hat-trick of his career, but typically attributed his rewards on the scoreboard to the work of his forwards in the middle.
"I just thank the forwards because they're the ones that just ran hard, and they made it easier for us edges to execute our plays. I'm just happy to get the three tries," he said.
"In the first half we were just focusing on powering through the middle, getting quick play the balls and getting through their ruck. Last week it was [Antonio Winterstein] that got the tries, this week it's me. I'm just doing my job."