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It was a case of so near yet so far for both of these teams last week.

The Cowboys started well against undefeated Melbourne and never stopped trying, but when the dust settled the Storm had handed them their fourth loss on the trot.

Another loss this week and the Cowboys will be right back in the same sticky predicament they found themselves in last year when they swiftly bowed out of finals contention.

The Warriors did almost everything right against the Rabbitohs but couldn't contain Cody Walker (four tries) and failed to match the Bunnies' urgency in the final 10 minutes.

As coach Stephen Kearney noted after the narrow loss, the Warriors have to start playing for 80 minutes.

The Rundown

Team news

Warriors: Blake Green (groin) has been ruled out, with Peta Hiku moving to five-eighth, Gerard Beale starting in the centres and Nathaniel Roache joining the bench. The Warriors have won their past five games at Mt Smart Stadium.

Cowboys: North Queensland are 1-17, with John Asiata (elbow) to play after initial thoughts of a serious injury in the collision with Nene Macdonald were eased earlier in the week. Josh McGuire will play his 200th NRL game. 

Key match-up

Poor old Michael Morgan needs help from somewhere if the Cowboys are going to break out of their month-long slump. Jake Granville has a tough battle on his hands against veteran hooker Issac Luke and will give the Cowboys a good shot at winning if he can get the better of the New Zealand international.

For the Warriors to win

They overcame the loss of Blake Green just before kick-off last week and almost pulled off an upset, but the Warriors have to put 80-minute performances together and stop switching off defensively at various stages. The fact Roger Tuivasa-Sheck is in blistering form should also help the Warriors claim a third win.

For the Cowboys to win

Losing winger Nene Macdonald to a serious injury shook up the Cowboys but they haven't got time to feel sorry for themselves after four straight losses. Coach Paul Green has to keep working on his team's offence to try to ease some of the intense pressure on their defence and 21-year-old five-eighth Jake Clifford has to step up and prove he's a full-time first grader.

Brett Kimmorley says

Both these teams are battling a little bit. The thing for both sides this week is who can arm-wrestle their way into a victory. When the game has been on the line for both of them in recent weeks it they have come up with crucial errors or bad defensive reads. Cowboys by 2

Warriors Stat Attack

Tuivasa-Sheck had a whale of a game against the Rabbitohs, racking up 213 run metres, 11 tackle breaks, two line breaks and a try. The Warriors had 44% of possession and completed at 67%, in addition to missing 36 tackles. Yet they still went within a whisker of an upset, and that was after they lost Blake Green minutes before kick-off when he was injured in the warm-up.

Cowboys Stat Attack

The Cowboys lead the NRL in line break assists (14), line engaged (110) and 40/20 kicks (2). Lock Josh McGuire is second in the league in post contact metres (297) while Michael Morgan is on top in all kicks (64).

And another thing ...

It's been 24 years since the Warriors and Cowboys entered the NRL with fellow newcomers the South Queensland Crushers and Western reds. The Crushers and Reds are long gone but the Cowboys and Warriors aren't going anywhere soon. The Cowboys have been more successful than the Warriors, winning one premiership, playing in three grand finals and reaching the finals 10 times. The Warriors have played in two grand finals and qualified for the post-season eight times.