The Cowboys pulled off arguably the upset of the season last week against the Roosters and a round of applause for anyone who tipped them.
But they get no respite on Saturday night against the second-placed Rabbitohs.
It will be a tough ask but the Bunnies are still a little shaky and the Cowboys will be pumped after marking Gavin Cooper's 300th game with a memorable win over the premiers.
Souths weren't great last week but they did enough to beat an in-form Manly side and should hit their straps when they get Sam Burgess back in a couple of weeks.
Cowboys: Only one change to the team which stunned the Roosters in Gosford last weekend with Javid Bowen shifting from wing to centre to replace Jordan Kahu (eye socket) and Murray Taulagi comes onto the wing for his NRL debut. Skipper Michael Morgan (concussion) and Dan Russell were omitted 24 hours before kick-off and Corey Jensen and Reuben Cotter were the last two to drop off an hour before game time.
Rabbitohs: Maroons forward Ethan Lowe returns after being rested last week and slots in to the back row with Dean Britt moving to prop to fill the hole left by Liam Knight (suspended). Mark Nicholls has been added to the bench and Bayley Sironen is out. Still no sign of Sam Burgess after he suffered a setback in his recovery from shoulder surgery. Connor Tracey was the other 24-hour cut.
Jake Clifford finally stepped up to the plate last week and showed he can run an NRL side for 80 minutes against quality opposition. Now comes the tricky bit - backing it up against another elite playmaker. Clifford will have to be on his game against Adam Reynolds, one of the NRL's best when it comes to game management and handling crunch time pressure.
For the Cowboys to win
As mentioned a lot of responsibility is on Clifford's shoulders, while the Cowboys would like to think they have an edge up front with Matt Scott and Jordan McLean against a relatively inexperienced Souths pack missing its usual muscle. If they defend as strongly as they did against the Roosters the Cowboys are a huge chance.
For the Rabbitohs to win
The spark the Bunnies had been missing returned last week against Manly and got them over the finish line in a tight contest. Wayne Bennett will have to coax a big effort from his forwards against the likes of Scott, McLean, Taumalolo and Cooper to provide a platform for Reynolds and Cody Walker to create. The Bunnies will also be banking on Damien Cook to keep the Cowboys guessing with his darts from dummy-half.
Brett Kimmorley says
An interesting one here. The Rabbitohs got back to a high completion rate and well-structured football for about 40 minutes of the game on Saturday. With there still being no Sam Burgess they will rely a lot on Reynolds, Walker and Cook. The Cowboys are staying in the finals race. Gavin Cooper’s 300th provided a massive lift last week, but can they repeat that effort without a major milestone to life them? Souths by 4
Adam Reynolds and Cody Walker did exactly what playmakers are supposed to do last week against Manly - they made plays. Reynolds had two try assists and two line break assists, while Walker finished with a try assist and line break assist. Damien Cook backed up after Wednesday's Origin decider with an 80-minute effort, racking up a game-high 53 tackles.
And another thing ...
The Cowboys went down 32-16 when they met the Rabbitohs in round nine in the final match of the NRL's inaugural Magic Round at Suncorp Stadium. But they have been a different team since that day, winning four of their next seven games. The three losses to Manly, the Tigers and Dragons during that period were by a combined 11 points. The Cowboys are one of three teams one win outside the top eight and will be anything but easy-beats over the final eight weeks of the regular season.