A lack of defensive resilience was what Cowboys coach Paul Green found most disappointing after his team conceded 34 first-half points to the Wests Tigers.
Green had some reason to be optimistic, with his depleted troops then posting four unanswered tries in the 36-20 loss at Campbelltown.
It wasn't the fact North Queensland couldn't crack the Tigers defence despite having ample opportunities in the opening stanza that frustrated Green, but rather their response to that.
"You're not going to score every time you go down there, but you can't [then] let them roll 100 metres," Green said, his team now 2-4.
"We can take some positives out of it that we got a reaction in the second half. It's no excuse for the first half, but there are some young guys amongst that, learning what it's like to play NRL.
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"We just didn't handle moments in that first half that compounded leaked points. We've got to show a bit more resilience there to make sure that we don't turn that into points."
Cowboys lock and stand-in captain Jason Taumalolo, himself far from disgraced in running for 259 metres, echoed the coach's thoughts.
"Just letting them go through, poking their nose through pretty easily [hurt us]," Taumalolo said.
"A good player like [Tigers hooker] Harry Grant is going to punish us. [We] pretty much played his game out there and we made it look easy for him in that first half."
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Green said there was "no magical change in tactics" at half-time that prompted his side to finally find their mojo.
"We just did what we said we'd come here to do and defended with a bit more urgency and intensity and got in front of them," Green said.
"I thought we controlled the ball better and got into that set-for-set type footy, which we just lacked the ability to do that in the first half."
The Cowboys missed injured stars Valentine Holmes, Jordan McLean, John Asiata and Michael Morgan.
Green said Holmes (ankle) and McLean (calf), who are on track to return first, will likely sit out at least another game.
It adds to a tough six-week stretch for North Queensland, with matches against top-eight teams Newcastle, Parramatta, Sydney Roosters, Penrith, Manly and Canberra awaiting them.
"I said through the week, we got to talking about 'we've got a hard run coming up', I said, well I'd like to know when we get easy games," Green said of the draw.
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"There aren't any easy games. If you don't turn up on any given day, it doesn't matter who you play, you're not going to be in the contest.
"I'm not worried who we play, but if we don't find that consistency, particularly when we're under pressure around our defence [we'll struggle].
"I'll just take the honest approach. We've got to look at their performance for what it is. There was some good stuff but there was some really, really bad stuff. We've got to get to the bottom of why we're getting the bad stuff."