Queensland Origin star Josh Papalii says the Canberra Raiders have been guilty of taking Newcastle lightly, but he's confident that won't happen as they fight to keep their slight finals hopes alive.
The Raiders' top-eight hopes took a massive hit with their 26-22 loss to Penrith at Canberra Stadium on Sunday.
They now need to win both their remaining games - against the Knights and minor-premiers Melbourne - but also rely on a raft of results going their way over the finals two rounds.
Sitting 10th, the Raiders are two wins behind seventh-placed North Queensland and eighth-placed Manly, while ninth-placed St George Illawarra are one win ahead of the Green Machine.
Ideally, Manly, the Cowboys and the Dragons all need to lose their final two games to give Canberra a chance.
But the Raiders also need to win both their games, starting with the Knights on Friday night.
Newcastle have become a bogey team for the Green Machine, having beaten them earlier this season and also taken them to extra-time twice last year for a draw and a loss.
Papalii was unsure why they struggled against the Knights, except for the fact they'd been guilty of taking them lightly.
"I'm not too sure. I think most teams go in to play Newcastle a bit lightly I reckon and I think we've been guilty of that in the past," he said.
"I don't think that will be the case on Friday though."
He hasn't given up on the Raiders sneaking into the eight and they would look to finish the season on a high even if they don't.
"I'm still hopeful. It's not a situation we want to be in, where it's not in our control, but ... hopefully the teams we need to lose have a few rough games and we slip in," Papalii said.
"But in saying that everyone's going to be peaking at the end of the season and we're going to try and finish on a high with these last two games and that starts on Friday."
Raiders second-rower Joe Tapine agreed with Papalii there was a tendency to underrate the club where he played the first 20 games of his NRL career.
He also pointed to the momentum the Knights have built over the last month, winning three games in a row before their loss to the Storm on the weekend.
They've had a similar run of form as the Raiders, who won three in a row before they're narrow defeat against Penrith.
"We've just got to focus on this week's game and try and beat Newcastle. Even if we can't make it, it's a big stepping stone for next year," Tapine said.
"It's not over until we know mathematically we can't make it, so we're definitely going to go out there and play for our season like we have been the last couple of weeks and give it our all."
While it didn't end up being the winner the Raiders hoped, Tapine was relieved he'd crossed for his third try of the season, which had put them up 22-20 with 25 minutes to go.
Off the back of a big Jack Wighton break, Canberra had a big overlap and the ball ended up with Tapine, who had an unmarked Joey Leilua on his outside.
But the Kiwi international opted to step back inside rather than pass to Leilua and the chance was lost - only for Tapine to score from a different play just seconds later.
"I was really relieved. I thought I blew that try there and I didn't know what I was doing, but I was glad I crossed, I was actually so glad I crossed because that's probably going to come up in the [team] meeting [on Tuesday]," he said.
NRL ROUND 25
Friday: Canberra Raiders v Newcastle Knights at Canberra Stadium, 6pm. Tickets available from Ticketek.