Canterbury say their last-start capitulation to Wests Tigers was the reality check they needed heading into the NRL finals.

North Queensland have been warned to expect a backlash from a humbled Canterbury outfit when the two sides meet at ANZ Stadium on Saturday.

The Bulldogs were seemingly flying high following encouraging wins over fellow NRL premiership contenders Manly and Melbourne.

They came crashing back to earth with a nine-tries-to-three 46-18 thumping at the hands of Wests Tigers last Sunday.

Conversely, the Cowboys will be buoyed after registering their first away of the season – against Cronulla – last round.

Suspended five-eighth Josh Reynolds will again be forced to watch from the sidelines but it set to return against the Panthers next week.

He said it was difficult to watch his teammates doing it tough and expected them to respond against the Cowboys.

“We pride ourselves so much on our defence,” Reynolds said.

“If we lost the game by two or a couple of points it’s not too bad.

“But letting in nine tries, it’s just not up to our standard … It’s something we really pride ourselves on and we were going really well up until (the Tigers match).

“We had a bit of a fall against Manly at (Brookvale) earlier in the year but other than that we’ve pretty much kept teams to two or three tries a game, which is not too bad.”

Queenslander Moses Mbye, 20, will be handed his first run-on start, in the No.6 jersey, in Reynolds’ absence.

The Dogs will also be boosted by the return of NSW State of Origin centre Josh Morris.

Reynolds said it would not be too hard to turn around the Dogs’ fortunes and their last-start loss might have been the reality check they needed headed into the finals.

“You get a bit depressed (following a big loss) at the start but you look at where you went wrong,” he said.

“If anything it’s probably a bit of a wake-up call for us.

“The boys had two unbelievable wins against Manly and Melbourne, two quality sides that are going to be there at the back end of the season.

“To come up against the Tigers side that was a bit depleted, everyone knew that, and to get served up like that, it brings you back down to earth and shows that maybe everything’s not as good as what we might think it is.

“This week will be a good chance to have a look at ourselves and where we can improve because it’s getting to that end of the season.”