Cessnock coach Todd Edwards believes his side will rise for the challenge of top of the table Coalfields rival Maitland after the Goannas' disappointing 16-10 loss Western Suburbs at Harker Oval on Saturday.
The Goannas are the only team to have beaten the Pickers this season and welcome back key playmakers Liam Foran and Elliott Jennings to the line-up for Saturday's crucial home clash.
Star fullback Harry O'Brien, who has been sidelined for five weeks with a hamstring, and utility Charlie King will also be considered but are likely to make their return in round 13 after the bye.
The news from the match review committee was good with AJ Davis spared a ban for a dangerous throw charge and Scott Briggs free to play after no charges were laid from his report.
The loss to Wests leaves the Goannas in third spot on the Newcastle RL ladder with 16 points, two points behind Central Newcastle and Maitland who are both on 18 points.
Central almost stumbled as well on Sunday when Kurri Kurri pushed them all the way with a 30-22 result at St John Oval.
The game was only decided with a 73rd minute converted try to the Butcher Boys after Bulldogs kicker Ethan Niszczot converted the second try of Zeb Dunstan's double to reduce the margin to two with 10 minutes to play.
The Goannas were aware that a Wests ambush was on the cards on Saturday, but with the exception of Reed Hugo, Wyatt Shaw and Harvey Neville, they were unable to match the Rosellas' enthusiasm even when Wests were reduced to 12 men when Stephen Widders was sin-binned 10 minutes before half-time.
"We never took our opportunities and got beaten in the effort areas," Edwards said.
"We got away with one the week before against Souths with a little bit of brilliance from Tyrone Roberts-Davis getting us home.
"It was a disappointing considering what was at stake and throws the pressure back on everyone."
Edwards said the Pickers were the benchmark of the competition and it was a great opportunity for the Goannas to bounce back against the best.
"We are capable of being very competitive if we get the model right," he said.
Bulldogs push Central
The Kurri Kurri Bulldogs almost pulled off an upset win against club legend Phil Williams' Central Newcastle on Sunday.
A converted Zeb Dunstan try saw the Bulldogs pull to within two points with 10 minutes remaining.
However, just three minutes later Butcher Boys' fullback Cameron Anderson scored a converted try to seal the result 30-22.
Dunstan scored a double and Henry Penn and Barry McGrady got a try each and Ethan Niszczot converted three from four shots on goal.