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North Queensland Cowboys ready for last throw of the dice

North Queensland coach Neil Henry is refusing to write off the Cowboys' NRL finals hopes and has challenged his troops to put freefalling Penrith to the sword on Sunday.

The Cowboys are a distant five points adrift of the top eight with five rounds remaining but, buoyed by last week's impressive win over premiership heavyweights South Sydney, Henry believes his side can ride the momentum all the way to the playoffs.

"We're desperate. We're a slim chance of making the top eight and that revolves around winning all of our games," he said.

"They're in a similar position, being a couple of points ahead of us. They're fighting for an opportunity to get into the top eight and they'll be coming out very tough to beat there at Centrebet Stadium.

"We need to replicate that enthusiasm we had against Souths and we'll be in a game of footy."

The Cowboys trumped the Rabbitohs at their own game, with Test props Matt Scott and James Tamou punching through the middle and dominating Souths' much-vaunted pack.

Henry is calling on Tamou and Scott to lead the way again as the Cowboys fight to keep their season alive against a Panthers outfit facing four straight defeats.

After a disappointing State of Origin series for NSW, Tamou said he'd be lucky to make Australia's World Cup squad but Henry is backing the big unit to force selectors' hand over the coming weeks.

"They're looking at him for sure," he said.

"That was probably Jimmy's best attacking game for while, where he was quite dominant with his carries.

"His defensive efforts were up too. It was a complete game from him. He's got that style of footy in him every week.

"It's been an up and down season for him but he gave a glimpse of what he can do last week and there's no reason why he can't replicate that in the remaining games of the season and he'll certainly be in that touring party.

"But I think with the squad they'll take him anyway. He's the incumbent Test prop and he hasn't let anyone down at Australian level."

The Cowboys coach nominated halfback Luke Walsh as the Panthers' most potent attacking threat.

"He is one of the best kickers in the game. He does most of their kicking, he finds the grass and I think they lead the competition in tries scored from kicked.

"So that's a huge part of their game. He's very dangerous kicker, so we need to be alert at the back and not give them too many opportunities."

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