Roosters fans must've been sweating when the Tigers got the jump on the Chooks early in the second half last week.
But a little bit of magic from Latrell Mitchell and Luke Keary turned the tide and then the Roosters relied on defence over the final 20 minutes to secure a crucial victory.
They should be at virtual full strength on Sunday, depending on how their Origin stars pull up.
The Cowboys are coming off a round 15 road loss to the Dragons and need to win almost all their remaining games to force their way into the playoffs.
Match: Roosters v Cowboys
Round 17 -
Venue: Central Coast Stadium, Central Coast
Roosters: In a late change, Jake Friend drops back to the bench, with Victor Radley (No.13) to start at hooker. Isaac Liu moves from the bench to start at lock. Friend has not played since round seven. In the other team news to emerge an hour before kick-off, Lindsay Collins and Sam Verrills were dropped from the squad. In another boost to the pack, Siosiua Taukeiaho returns from concussion. Blues Origin reps James Tedesco and Boyd Cordner have not been named. Lachlan Lam and Matt Ikuvalu were trimmed from the reserves on Saturday.
Cowboys: Michael Morgan (concussion) has been replaced at five-eighth by John Asiata, while Matt Scott is a welcome addition after missing four games with a shoulder injury. The veteran prop has been named on the bench. Reuben Cotter and Corey Jensen were omitted from the squad 60 minutes before kick-off. Scott Bolton goes back to the bench after starting in round 15 while Javid Bowen has been recalled on the wing. Coen Hess was cleared to return from a knee injury and has been elevated from the reserves to the bench. Murray Taulagi was cut from the reserves on Saturday.
Fullback for Roosters is number 1 Joseph ManuFullback for Cowboys is number 1 Scott Drinkwater
Winger for Roosters is number 2 Daniel TupouWinger for Cowboys is number 2 Kyle Feldt
Centre for Roosters is number 3 Latrell MitchellCentre for Cowboys is number 3 Jordan Kahu
Centre for Roosters is number 4 Brett MorrisCentre for Cowboys is number 4 Tom Opacic
Winger for Roosters is number 5 Ryan HallWinger for Cowboys is number 5 Javid Bowen
Five-Eighth for Roosters is number 6 Luke KearyFive-Eighth for Cowboys is number 14 John Asiata
Halfback for Roosters is number 7 Cooper CronkHalfback for Cowboys is number 7 Jake Clifford
Prop for Roosters is number 8 Jared Waerea-HargreavesProp for Cowboys is number 8 Josh McGuire
Hooker for Roosters is number 13 Victor RadleyHooker for Cowboys is number 9 Jake Granville
Prop for Roosters is number 10 Siosiua TaukeiahoProp for Cowboys is number 10 Jordan McLean
2nd Row for Roosters is number 11 Nat Butcher2nd Row for Cowboys is number 11 Gavin Cooper
2nd Row for Roosters is number 12 Mitchell Aubusson2nd Row for Cowboys is number 12 Shane Wright
Lock for Roosters is number 14 Isaac LiuLock for Cowboys is number 13 Jason Taumalolo
Interchange for Roosters is number 9 Jake FriendInterchange for Cowboys is number 15 Matthew Scott
Interchange for Roosters is number 15 Angus CrichtonInterchange for Cowboys is number 16 Scott Bolton
Interchange for Roosters is number 16 Sitili TupouniuaInterchange for Cowboys is number 17 Francis Molo
Interchange for Roosters is number 17 Poasa FaamausiliInterchange for Cowboys is number 18 Coen Hess
- Referee: Peter Gough
- Referee: Dave Munro
- Touch Judge: Liam Nicholls
- Touch Judge: Phil Henderson
- Video Referee: Ben Galea
- Senior Review Official: Steve Clark
Latrell Mitchell bounced back to form last week against the Tigers and will be hoping to put in an eye-catching performance against the Cowboys, whilst Tom Opacic will be looking to add to his season total of six after scoring a double against the Dragons last time out.
For the Roosters to win
They need to pay a bit more attention to defensive detail and get that hard-edged consistency back into their game. Keary and Cronk have to put their collective stamp on the game early and force the Cowboys to play catch-up, while Robinson will be banking on another big game from Mitchell.
For the Cowboys to win
They've shown glimpses during games that they can compete with the best sides and it's going to take a truly special 80-minute effort to upset the Roosters, who will probably start to get serious about the back end of the season now that the Origin period has ended. The Cowboys need to match the Roosters forwards and much of that responsibility falls to Jason Taumalolo.
Brett Kimmorley says
The Roosters are starting to get their team back together. Luke Keary was classy but still not at his best last week. Once the rep players are all back we will see the best team on paper in the league get some consistency and then get their brand of football to where they think they can win the competition. Roosters by 10
Latrell Mitchell is well on the way to the NRL's point-scoring crown for 2019 after another productive performance last week. Mitchell is on 153 points - 25 clear of second-placed Jarrod Croker and 37 ahead of third-placed Kalyn Ponga. James Tedesco leads the NRL in line breaks (13) and tackle breaks (89).
And another thing ...
The Roosters squared off with the Cowboys just once in 2018, prevailing 26-20 after leading 16-8 at half-time. The game marked the last time Cooper Cronk and the retiring Johnathan Thurston were on the same field. Thurston showed he could still play at the age of 35, scoring a try and kicking four goals.