After keeping their opposition scoreless in the past two games, the Storm defence will now go up against one of the best attacking sides in the competition.
The Cowboys have won five games in a row by an average margin of just under 20 points.
They have also scored an average of 34 points per game over that time.
Lead by Jonathan Thurston, who boasts 13 try assists and 11 line break assists in the opening nine rounds, the reigning premiers present the perfect test for Craig Bellamy’s side ahead of the Origin period.
We take a look at the three key areas to considered as we get set to take on the Cowboys.
Keeping the 17
North Queensland have used only 19 players in their squad so far this season. The ability to field the same side week in and week out is a huge benefit to helping a side build consistency and that is certainly what Paul Green’s side has been so far this year. Add to this the fact that the Townsville outfit was able to retain its entire 17 from last year’s Grand Final, something hardly seen in the modern game, it is a further indication of just how cohesive this Cowboys outfit is.
A Champion’s confidence
The reigning premiers seem to have gone up a gear even from the form they displayed at the end of last season. Supreme confidence comes with winning a premiership and the Cowboys are using it to outlast their opposition, winning the mental battle more often than not. In each of the last five games, North Queensland have scored multiple tries in the final 20 minutes. It is that belief in getting the job done down the stretch that has served them well in the early rounds. Melbourne must hang in the fight for the entire 80 minutes, any lapse and they risk being overrun towards the end.
In last year’s preliminary final the Cowboys ran for nearly 470 metres more than Melbourne. Matt Scott was close to best on ground that night with 202m, while 10 other teammates ran for more than 100 metres. Just three Storm players managed to reach triple figures that night. However with a rejuvenated forward pack, Melbourne has shown it has what it takes to match it with the power sides of the competition. There will face no greater test as to how that emerging pack has come than when they face Scott and co. on Saturday night.