Anthony Watmough has seen enough of North Queensland's outstanding prop pairing of James Tamou and Matt Scott this year to know he's going to wake up bruised and battered again on Saturday morning.
Manly's 16-10 defeat by Canterbury last Friday in the opening qualifying clash of the NRL finals campaign was a brutal affair.
Sam Kasiano, Frank Pritchard and James Graham all left their mark last week, and Watmough is now gearing up for the challenge of Tamou and Scott who spearhead a pack that also includes former Queensland workhorse Dallas Johnson.
Having played with Tamou for New South Wales this season and alongside Scott in the Kangaroos side in last year's Four Nations tour, the combative back-rower is under no illusions about the size of the task facing the premiers in Friday's semi-final.
Defeat at the Sydney Football Stadium will end Manly's hold on the premiership, but Watmough is confident their strong record against the Cowboys is a good sign for the Sea Eagles.
Geoff Toovey's men were the last team to beat North Queensland in a high-quality 8-6 arm wrestle in Townsville in round 22 and have prevailed in four of the last five clashes between the sides.
"We can take a little bit out of how we travelled up there and beat them a couple of weeks ago, but it is a whole new ballgame now," Watmough said.
"They totally dismantled the Broncos last week. We can't make the errors we made last week or they are going to make us pay for it.
"We weren't on last week, but we defended the house down. If we had completed better then we would have run those six points down."
Tamou and Scott both clocked up more than 200 metres against the Broncos and Watmough identified the pair as the key to the Cowboys dazzling backline led by Johnathan Thurston and Matt Bowen.
"The way Scott and Tamou run onto the ball on the back of their back five is massive and we've got our work cut out," he said.
"If we can kick long, keep them pinned back it will nullify them. They'll have to keep running back and have to do a bit more work."
Broncos prop Josh McGuire felt the full force of Tamou and Scott last week and the 22-year-old believes he faced the team that will lift the NRL premiership shield on September 30.
"I reckon the Cowboys are the team to beat," McGuire said.
"Thurston is playing career-best footy and Scott and Tamou set a platform for those really fast blokes they have at the back.
"At the moment they are the best pair of props in the comp.
"It was a pretty brutal game up there in Townsville and every time I have played them it's been very tough."
McGuire's career has run almost parallel with 23-year-old Tamou, who made his Australia debut this year, and has been impressed by the huge strides he's taken in 12 months.
"I've played against him a fair bit in Toyota Cup and I've seen him improve no end," he said.
"This year he has really backed his ability and is playing with heaps of confidence.