It doesn't get any easier for the struggling North Queensland Cowboys with an away clash against second-placed Penrith the third leg of a diabolical five-game stretch.
The Cowboys head into the game against Penrith, who are fresh from putting 56 points on Cronulla, having conceding 42 points apiece in back-to-back hammerings at the hands of the Eels and Roosters.
The Panthers have dropped just three points so far this season, their only loss against ladder-leading arch-rivals Parramatta, and really hit their straps in the romp against the Sharks after a string of hard-fought wins over the Storm, Rabbitohs and Wests Tigers.
Origin halfback Nathan Cleary pulls the strings for a Penrith line-up that has weapons all over the park, an arsenal that only got stronger with the four-try debut of rookie Charlie Staines.
Match: Panthers v Cowboys
Round 10 -
Venue: Panthers Stadium, Penrith
Panthers: The Panthers will start 1-17 with Mitch Kenny and Malakai Watene-Zelezniak the two players left out an hour before kick-off. Centre Dean Whare returns with Brent Naden moving to the wing in place of Charlie Staines. Matt Burton and Lindsay Smith were the players omitted from the reserves bench on Saturday.
The Panthers return to their home ground for the first time since Round 1.
Cowboys: Daejarn Asi will start at five-eighth, with Mitchell Dunn dropping back to the bench. Corey Jensen and Murray Tualagi were the two players omitted 60 minutes before game time.
With Val Holmes set to be sidelined for two months with an ankle injury, Justin O'Neill returns on the wing.
North Queensland on Friday were granted an exemption to replace props Jordan McLean (calf) and John Asista (knee) in the 21-man squad. Ben Hampton drops off the bench with Reuben Cotter joining the interchange and Emry Pere the other player omitted from the squad 24 hours before kick-off. The Cowboys have won five of their past seven games against the Panthers.
Fullback for Panthers is number 1 Dylan EdwardsFullback for Cowboys is number 1 Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow
Winger for Panthers is number 2 Josh MansourWinger for Cowboys is number 2 Kyle Feldt
Centre for Panthers is number 3 Dean WhareCentre for Cowboys is number 3 Connelly Lemuelu
Centre for Panthers is number 4 Stephen CrichtonCentre for Cowboys is number 4 Esan Marsters
Winger for Panthers is number 5 Brent NadenWinger for Cowboys is number 5 Justin O'Neill
Five-Eighth for Panthers is number 6 Jarome LuaiFive-Eighth for Cowboys is number 14 Daejarn Asi
Halfback for Panthers is number 7 Nathan ClearyHalfback for Cowboys is number 7 Jake Clifford
Prop for Panthers is number 8 James TamouProp for Cowboys is number 8 Josh McGuire
Hooker for Panthers is number 9 Apisai KoroisauHooker for Cowboys is number 9 Reece Robson
Prop for Panthers is number 10 James Fisher-HarrisProp for Cowboys is number 10 Francis Molo
2nd Row for Panthers is number 11 Viliame Kikau2nd Row for Cowboys is number 11 Shane Wright
2nd Row for Panthers is number 12 Liam Martin2nd Row for Cowboys is number 12 Coen Hess
Lock for Panthers is number 13 Isaah YeoLock for Cowboys is number 13 Jason Taumalolo
Interchange for Panthers is number 14 Tyrone MayInterchange for Cowboys is number 6 Mitchell Dunn
Interchange for Panthers is number 15 Spencer LeniuInterchange for Cowboys is number 15 Tom Gilbert
Interchange for Panthers is number 16 Moses LeotaInterchange for Cowboys is number 16 Gavin Cooper
Interchange for Panthers is number 17 Billy BurnsInterchange for Cowboys is number 19 Reuben Cotter
- Referee: Ben Cummins
- Touch Judge: Phil Henderson
- Touch Judge: Chris Sutton
- Video Referee: Ben Galea
- Senior Review Official: Steve Clark
Isaah Yeo v Jason Taumalolo: Penrith's Yeo has taken his all-round game to another level in 2020 but this week he goes toe-to-toe with the NRL's premier No.13.
Yeo ranks fifth for tackles made and will certainly add a healthy chunk to his tally with Tonga international Taumalolo, who leads the competition for run metres and post-contact metres, running at him all night.
North Queensland have the leakiest defence in the NRL, conceding more points than any other side, and appear unlikely to relinquish that "honour" against a Penrith attack on a roll after their breakout performance in round nine.