What next for the Cowboys?
After turning heads with the previous week's road win over the Panthers, the Cows couldn't repeat the performance against the Tigers, slipping to 3-7 for the season.
The door hasn't closed on their premiership aspirations yet, but they simply have to put together a solid winning streak at some stage - it has basically become their only option - and that's not easy to do in today's NRL.
Maybe the off-field issues with Scott Bolton were a disruption last week. Regardless, the Cowboys failed to match the Tigers' energy and enthusiasm for most of the night. It has been the story of their season thus far.
This time last year the Rabbitohs were being criticised for being too predictable and structured. Now they're regularly mentioned as one of the competition's most exciting teams - a team that just goes out looking to take whatever the defence gives. And it's working, with the Bunnies averaging around 25 points per game.
They passed a massive test with last week's defeat of the red-hot Dragons and should head to North Queensland eager to back it up.
Match: Cowboys v Rabbitohs
Round 11 -
Venue: 1300SMILES Stadium
- LIVE PASS
Key match-up: Johnathan Thurston copped a few early barbs but it is Michael Morgan who is under increasing pressure to rediscover last year's finals form and get the Cowboys firing. A few Cowboy fans even suggested that Paul Green should drop Morgan to light a fire under him. That won't happen, but the Cowboys need their classy No.6 to be at his best against Souths dynamo Cody Walker – one of the competition's form five-eighths.
For the Cowboys to win: For some bizarre reason Green can't get everybody on the same page at the same time. It's happened a few times fleetingly, but their disjointed performances are so un-Cowboys-like that no-one can really pinpoint why they're struggling. If they don't stand up and be counted in the forwards on Saturday, they could be in for a steam-rolling from their metre-eating Souths counterparts.
For the Rabbitohs to win: Just keep doing whatever it is you're doing. The Bunnies proved they were a legit contender with the win over the Dragons and should be eager to show the Cowboys the difference between the two sides at the moment in terms of execution and confidence. The Bunnies are a team in sync and every player looks comfortable with his role. The only worry for coach Anthony Seibold is a big letdown after last week's emphatic victory.
Cowboys stat attack: Johnathan Thurston is equal first with Kalyn Ponga in line break assists (11) and equal second in try assists (10) behind leader Gareth Widdop (11). As a team the Cowboys completed just 70 per cent last week compared to a very tidy 88 per cent for the Tigers.
Rabbitohs stat attack: The Rabbitohs lead a whopping nine of the NRL's team stats categories, including tries (43), line breaks (49), line break assists (34), try assists (30) and charge-downs (3).
And another thing: The $10-million-dollar man, hard-running forward Jason Taumalolo, brings up his 150th game in Cowboys colours on Saturday. His teammates will be hoping the milestone match gets Taumalolo in the mood to meet the Burgess boys head-on.
North Queensland Cowboys v South Sydney Rabbitohs, Saturday 5.30pm at 1300Smiles Stadium
Cowboys: 14 Te Maire Martin, 2 Kyle Feldt, 3 Justin O'Neill, 4 Ben Hampton, 5 Antonio Winterstein, 6 Michael Morgan, 7 Johnathan Thurston (c), 8 Matthew Scott (c), 9 Jake Granville, 10 Scott Bolton, 11 Gavin Cooper, 12 Coen Hess, 13 Jason Taumalolo
Interchange: 15 Shaun Fensom, 16 Corey Jensen, 18 Francis Molo, 21 Enari Tuala
Lachlan Coote and Ethan Lowe drop out of the side, with Te Maire Martin moving into the backline and Francis Molo and Enari Tuala joining the bench. Coach Paul Green trimmed Javid Bowen and Jake Clifford from his initial squad on Friday night.
Rabbitohs: 1 Alex Johnston, 2 Campbell Graham, 3 Greg Inglis (c), 4 Dane Gagai, 5 Hymel Hunt, 6 Cody Walker, 7 Adam Reynolds, 8 Thomas Burgess, 9 Damien Cook, 10 George Burgess, 11 John Sutton, 12 Angus Crichton, 13 Sam Burgess
Interchange: 14 Cameron Murray, 15 Adam Doueihi, 16 Jason Clark, 17 Tevita Tatola
The Rabbitohs are 1-17, with Robert Jennings still sidelined with a hamstring injury. Mark Nicolls, Braidon Burns, Robbie Farah and Kyle Turner dropped out of the initial 21-man squad.
Head-to-head: Played 32; Cowboys 17 wins, Rabbitohs 14 wins, 1 draw
Matches at venue: Played 16; Cowboys 9 wins, Rabbitohs 7 wins
2017 results: Cowboys won 20-6 at 1300Smiles Stadium in round 5 and 23-10 at Barlow Park in round 19
Points per game: Cowboys 16.2; Rabbitohs 24.8
Points conceded per game: Cowboys 22.2; Rabbitohs 17.6
Televised: Live on Fox League
Steve Turner's prediction: The Cowboys have been a real disappointment this year. They are a much better side than what they have shown throughout the season. Once again errors cruelled them in their loss against the Tigers and this week's clash with the super impressive South Sydney doesn't get any better. The Bunnies showed they are the real deal after a great win over the ladder leading Dragons. Their forwards were superb, but Damien Cook was the star. The number nine has been outstanding all year and the middle of the field is where the Bunnies will have so much joy this weekend.
Tip: Rabbitohs by 10