PREVIEW: Rd 5, 2017
North Queensland Cowboys v South Sydney Rabbitohs
Friday, 7.05pm (AEST)
The North Queensland Cowboys will host the South Sydney Rabbitohs in Townsville on Friday night, and both teams will be eager to improve on their last performances.
The Rabbitohs will be looking to bounce back on a poor offensive game against the Roosters last week, where they scored only one try and described their own attack as "clunky".
The Cowboys downed an understrength Gold Coast Titans, but leaked 26 points, with two tries coming within the last five minutes of the game where the Cowboys are typically at their best.
They'll be keen to prove that they haven't lost their defensive grit, and the return of Jason Taumalolo from suspension and Lachlan Coote from injury will help them improve their defence.
The Rabbitohs certainly don't lack the team, the skill or the experience to win, with players like Adam Reynolds, Robbie Farah and two of the Burgess brothers they have attacking power all over the field.
They'll need to return to the form that saw them beat the Knights and Manly, and the motivation to go three from five will be a huge factor in their effort this week.
They'll also have a longer and more regular preparation than the Cowboys this week, having played on Thursday, as opposed to the Cowboys' Saturday night game.
Fresh off their first win of the season, the Rabbitohs will be hoping to catch their opponents underdone on Friday night. Phoenix Hunt and Cruz Topai-Aveai combined for 18 tackle breaks last week and could be the danger men in steamy conditions up north.
The Cowboys will return to the field for the first time in a fortnight after their match against the Titans was postponed after a flight cancellation left them unable to get to the venue on time. North Queensland welcome back Kalyn Ponga after his stint in the NRL and will be warm favourites to register their fourth win from as many starts.