Cowboys adamant they can rebuild from Tigers mauling
Todd Payten insists North Queensland's NRL season is not over despite the Cowboys turning in the worst defensive performance in the club's history against the Wests Tigers.
Left embarrassed and bereft of explanation, the Cowboys were blown off the park 66-18 by a Tigers side that entered Leichhardt Oval in last spot.
On a horror night for North Queensland, the Cowboys missed 54 tackles, conceded almost double as many metres as the Tigers and gave themselves next-to-no service with the ball.
It put paid to a brief resurgence in the Cowboys' season, who had won their past two games before Saturday night and threatened to recover from a 3-6 start.
No team has rebounded to win the premiership after conceding 50 points in a match.
After Saturday night, the biggest question is whether last year's preliminary-finalists can get anywhere near the top eight after entering the halfway point of the year in 14th spot.
But regardless, Payten says all is not lost.
"It's going to dent our confidence, but it's not a line through our season," the Cowboys coach said.
"We have to turn around again, and turn around fast.
"It was very tough to watch. Probably the worst performance we have had as a team since I've been at the club.
"Everything to play for and we were beaten in all parts of the game and across all parts of the field."
The Cowboys will stay in Sydney this week ahead of a Friday night clash with Parramatta, where they must put some belief back into the the squad.
Jason Taumalolo is some chance of returning from knee surgery, while fellow forward Griffin Neame is expected to make his comeback from a throat injury.
"First and foremost you have to cop that (performance) on the chin," captain Chad Townsend said.
"You have to be accountable for your performances as a team and as an individual.
"They ran harder than us and they tackled harder than us. It's a simple game sometimes and they dominated from the very start.
"Collectively we just weren't on tonight. It's disappointing. It's tough to take.
"We're professionals. We have to keep turning up, and that's what we'll do."