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North Queensland's stellar 2022 NRL start could be made all the more sweet on Sunday when they face Wests Tigers with an opportunity to equal their 2021 season wins in less than half the games played.
Co-captain and marquee off-season signing Chad Townsend attributes the Cowboys' form to a gruelling summer and a focus on defence which has earned the third- placed club the third-best defensive record through nine rounds.
Should Townsend's side see off the Tigers, their seven wins from 10 games will equal their total from 2021 and set them up for a blockbuster two weeks when they face leaders Melbourne and premiers Penrith back-to-back.
"We're the last game of Magic round so it can be quite a long weekend. So (we need) just to make sure that we remain focused and don't play the game before it happens," Townsend told AAP.
"But those two weeks following are going to be huge for us and a real test for where we're at.
"I'm really enjoying where we're at at the moment and obviously it's still a long year and I don't want to get ahead of ourselves. But you want to enjoy what you're doing and make the most of it so, can't complain at the moment."
Townsend had arguably his best game in Cowboys colours in their 36-16 victory over Newcastle on Saturday, nabbing four try assists to rise to fifth on the NRL ladder in the category.
But it was his kicking game that had Newcastle reeling, pinning them deep in their half and alleviating pressure on his own side.
The 31-year-old is now sixth in the competition for total kick metres and understands it's one of the reasons the Cowboys recruited him.
"Kicking is a big part of my responsibility here at the Cowboys. It's something I've done my whole life in practice, hours and hours, rep after rep," he said.
"I love taking control of the kicking game. It's one of my strengths in this football team.
"I'm really enjoying that aspect of the game.
But even Townsend admitted his kick try-assist for the Cowboys' third against the Knights was a mishap that fell kindly to winger Murray Taulagi.
"That was a classic shank," he quipped.
"I can't take full credit for that, but we'll take it."