The Cowboys' plan to shut down Maloney
James Maloney has played a starring role in Penrith's strong start to the season and Cowboys prop Matt Scott is looking to cut off the pipeline to his stunning form by nullifying the Panthers' pack.
Maloney has feasted off the momentum created by the likes of Reagan Campbell-Gillard, Trent Merrin and James Tamou, propelling the Panthers to a 6-2 record and second spot on the Telstra Premiership ladder.
Scott concedes it will be a "massive job" against the giant, in-form Penrith pack.
The Cowboys were given a lesson in physicality by Canberra last Saturday and the task ahead of them goes up a notch at Carrington Park in Bathurst on Friday night.
A loss could mean the Cowboys finish round nine in last place and they have faced a gruelling schedule just to get to Bathurst.
On Wednesday they flew from Townsville to Brisbane and then caught another plane to Sydney where they stayed overnight.
The squad was then scheduled to train in Sydney on Thursday, fly to Orange and then catch a bus to Bathurst where the Panthers await.
In the previous meeting between the clubs in round four, Maloney dismantled the Cowboys off the back of a dominant display by Penrith's middle men.
"They have a great pack obviously, that's where their strength lies. [Regan] Campbell-Gillard, Trent Merin, Jimmy Tamou, you can rattle them off," Scott said.
"We've got a massive job defensively and we've already said that's an area of focus for us, but against this side particularly it's a tough ask."
To stop Maloney, the co-captain said the Cowboys needed to work hard to deny him space or there would be a repeat of their loss in Townsville on March 29.
"I think part of [stopping Maloney] is just winning the ruck, not letting him play off the back of momentum, that's what halves sweat on, it's what they look for, it's what Jimmy looks for," he said.
"He gets over the advantage line really well on momentum and plays to space really well."
Cowboys coach Paul Green said his side's efforts against the Raiders simply weren't good enough.
"They've got a pretty relentless go-forward and then they've got some guys that can off-load and play off the back of that as well," Green said.
Green is also hoping his side's goal-line defence is stiffer than last week, with tries conceded close to the line from simple plays.
"We've been letting teams get leads so then you're playing under pressure and that probably changes your mindset through games and that's probably been the biggest thing," Green said.