Damien Cook of the Rabbitohs (left) reacts after scoring a try during the Round 9 NRL match against the Cowboys at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, Sunday, May 12, 2019. (AAP Image/Dave Hunt) NO
Damien Cook of the Rabbitohs (left) reacts after scoring a try during the Round 9 NRL match against the Cowboys at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, Sunday, May 12, 2019. (AAP Image/Dave Hunt) NO

Cowboys kept faith after Magic Round loss

COWBOYS coach Paul Green has challenged his side to narrow the gap between their best and their worst football after naming an unchanged line-up for Saturday's clash with the Eels at 1300SMILES Stadium.

The Cowboys were guilty of drifting out of the game to start both halves in last weekend's 32-16 loss to South Sydney at Suncorp Stadium as they slumped to a 3-6 record.

The Rabbitohs came out firing with three tries in 12 minutes in the first half before the Cowboys hit back with a quick double to centre Justin O'Neill to make it 18-10 at halftime.

Souths laid on two tries in five minutes soon after the break to ultimately claim the win, but Green felt his players had shown enough to deserve a shot at redemption against the Eels.

"I thought we'd give those guys a chance. You can't very well say that we played some good footy as a team and then not give them the opportunity to try and fix some of the bad stuff up," Green said.

"They were pretty simple tries. They went through us, not around us, or pulled us apart.

"That's what we need to take out of the game is that when we were good they had trouble handling us, but you can't hide away from the fact that when we were bad we were really bad.

Cowboys player No.3 Justine O'Neill, before scoring a try. NRL Magic Round, Suncorp Stadium Brisbane, on Sunday May 12th, 2019 (Image AAP/Steve Pohlner)
Cowboys player No.3 Justine O'Neill, before scoring a try. NRL Magic Round, Suncorp Stadium Brisbane, on Sunday May 12th, 2019 (Image AAP/Steve Pohlner)

"We've got to certainly narrow that gap between our best and our worst."

Skilful forward John Asiata will partner Michael Morgan in the halves for the third game in a row despite struggling to make an impact against Souths as a few early passes found the turf.

Green didn't want to declare Asiata their long-term solution at five-eighth, but he backed the 26-year-old to improve as the Cowboys search for a way to spark their fading season against the Eels.

Cowboys player No.6 John Asiata, with the ball. NRL Magic Round, Suncorp Stadium Brisbane, on Sunday May 12th, 2019 (Image AAP/Steve Pohlner)
Cowboys player No.6 John Asiata, with the ball. NRL Magic Round, Suncorp Stadium Brisbane, on Sunday May 12th, 2019 (Image AAP/Steve Pohlner)

"We need to perform and get some results so the onus is on all of us to try and work out how we do that, but he (Asiata) was good against the Titans (in his first game at five-eighth)," Green said.

"He showed some good signs in patches (against Souths), similar to us as a team, and the things where he was probably off are probably some of his strengths, like his passing game.

"He had a couple hit the deck so it was probably a bit of a nervous start for him. He's just got to relax and worry about just keeping it simple and doing his job."

Cowboys player No.9 Jake Granville passing the ball. NRL Magic Round, Suncorp Stadium Brisbane, on Sunday May 12th, 2019 (Image AAP/Steve Pohlner)
Cowboys player No.9 Jake Granville passing the ball. NRL Magic Round, Suncorp Stadium Brisbane, on Sunday May 12th, 2019 (Image AAP/Steve Pohlner)

Hooker Jake Granville has been named despite suffering a concussion last weekend, but Green was unsure if there could be another game day switch after bench utility Kurt Baptiste was promoted to start against Souths.

"It's more about how I manage our forward rotation. That was the thinking there," Green said.

"I thought Jake was good when he got on there. He sort of sparked us (but) unfortunately he got that head knock pretty soon into the second half."

Cowboys team to play Eels: 1 Jordan Kahu, 2 Kyle Feldt, 3 Justin O'Neill, 4 Tom Opacic, 5 Ben Hampton, 6 John Asiata, 7 Michael Morgan (c), 8 Matt Scott, 9 Jake Granville, 10 Jordan McLean, 11 Gavin Cooper, 12 Coen Hess, 13 Jason Taumalolo, 14 Kurt Baptiste, 15 Mitch Dunn, 16 Scott Bolton, 17 Francis Molo. Reserves: 18 Corey Jensen, 19 Gideon Gela-Mosby, 20 Shane Wright, 21 Jake Clifford