A struggling Sea Eagles outfit didn't quite get the win last week in what is one of the NRL's toughest road trips but after pushing the premiers all the way players are hoping that improvement will see them break a seven-game duck when they return home to Brookvale to face the Dragons on Monday.
Following last week's heartbreaking 30-26 loss, coach Trent Barrett labelled it the team's best effort of 2016 – though sadly it still wasn't quite enough to claim their first win since Round 7.
Speaking from training on Friday, players said while it was frustrating not to get the two points, the improved effort, the return of senior men Daly Cherry-Evans and Jamie Lyon, and the very chance to run out with an unchanged 17 would all stand them in good stead when they host the Dragons tonight.
"That was probably one of our best games this year, we really grinded out last year's premiers and really showed what we're made of and I think we came pretty close. We're just going to have to do that again," said hooker Api Koroisau.
"We've had some bad games but then again we've actually played pretty well for 60, 70 minutes with a few periods letting us down. At the same time I think that was our best game and we're going to put out that same side against Dragons and come away with the two points hopefully."
Centre Dylan Walker also felt the side was playing better than its form-line indicated but would need to put together a complete performance to seal a much-needed win at Brookvale.
"We spoke after the [Cowboys] game, we said we were on the right track. It's pretty frustrating we didn't get the win and North Queensland, they're a tough outfit and you need to play for the whole 80. We probably just lapsed off in periods of the game and that's probably what cost us," Walker said.
"I think this is the first time we've had the same team on the park two weeks in a row so having [Cherry-Evans and Lyon] back and having a fully fit team is going to help us massively."
Walker insisted the team could still make the finals in 2016, though that would likely mean they could afford to drop just a single game over the final 10 rounds.
He added it would be a tough ask against a Dragons team that has recently been boosted by the return of Origin and Test star Josh Dugan.
"Having Josh Dugan back is a massive plus for them. We all know how good of a player he can be and having the likes of Gareth Widdop and Benji Marshall who are great players, it's going to be tough but we've just got to be focused on ourselves this week," Walker said.