Cowboys coach Paul Green has told young half Jake Clifford to take plenty of confidence from the way he fared against Cooper Cronk and Luke Keary in Gosford on Sunday.
"This is a game we all hoped was coming from him," Green said of Clifford, who slotted the winning field goal for the Cowboys in their 15-12 win over the Roosters at Central Coast Stadium on Sunday.
"I said to him after the game he needed to take a lot of confidence from it.
"His opposite was one of the best halfbacks to ever play the game so Jake should take a lot out of that. He was good, I was really happy for him."
Clifford missed two earlier field-goal attempts shots (76th and 77th minutes) before nailing his 79th-minute one-pointer to edge North Queensland ahead 13-12.
Clifford also scored the only try of the first half, a noteworthy achievement for the Cowboys defence considering they were facing the likes of Cronk, Luke Keary, Latrell Mitchell, Joseph Manu, Brett Morris and Daniel Tupou.
The 21-year-old's feats were all the more impressive considering he was without his usual partner in crime Michael Morgan (concussion).
Clifford's NRL career is only 16 games old but he took it to 362-game Cronk and 124-game Keary.
"I think this is a game he should take a lot of confidence out," Green said.
"We all know the talent he's got, probably to be fair up until this point he hasn't been able to produce it consistently.
"And it was important for him today – after losing Morgo in the Origin – so we really needed Cliffo to step up today and do his job. I thought he was outstanding."
Although Clifford missed the first two field goals, Green did not send out a message to give someone else a try.
"No ... and I think that was a really good sign that he didn't let that hold him back. When the moment came again he stepped up and made the play. It was a huge day for him."
It's also pretty big in the context of the Cowboys' season. It was only their seventh win but moved them from 14th to 11th – just one win outside the top-eight.
"It has kept us in the hunt ... last night's result with the [Broncos-Warriors] draw helps. Someone might miss out by a point or make it by a point," Green said.
"It's still wide open and we've given ourselves a chance. It's important we don't waste the win today and back it up with a few more."
South Sydney will travel to Townsville next Saturday for a round 18 game at 1300Smiles Stadium.