North Queensland enforcer Josh McGuire is aware the Cowboys may rue letting two NRL points slip away from their grasp against South Sydney.
The Cowboys conceded three tries in the final 10 minutes as the Rabbitohs came away from Townsville with a 30-18 victory on Saturday.
With just two points separating eighth-placed Newcastle from the 13th-placed Cowboys, McGuire knows such slip-ups could prove costly in the race for a top eight finish.
The Queensland State of Origin representative says Thursday's clash with 11th-placed Cronulla looms as crucial for either team.
"It's definitely one that got away against the Rabbits," McGuire said.
"We were a bit in cruise control there for most of the game and then it just slipped away.
"That middle area of the ladder just keeps see-sawing between all the teams.
"One team loses, the next week they win.
"It's the tightest competition I've seen in a long time.
"It's very important for us to make sure we start stringing just some good football together."
The Cowboys are likely to head south without captain Michael Morgan, who sat out the Rabbitohs defeat due to the after-effects of concussion.
Morgan was knocked out in the Origin decider earlier this month, less than a fortnight after being concussed against St George Illawarra.
Coach Paul Green has already suggested it's highly unlikely Morgan will face the Sharks given the short turnaround and McGuire was happy with that cautious approach towards his teammate's health.
"I hope Morgo just takes all the time he needs to make sure he's right," McGuire said.
"You can't take those things lightly ... He's a mate of mine and his health is the most important thing that I care about, not winning games when it comes to him."
Australian Associated Press