North Queensland are eyeing the top four, but to get there they will have to beat Penrith. Matt Scott believes stopping former Cowboy James Segeyaro is key

Matt Scott has identified stopping the threat of former North Queensland teammate James Segeyaro as the key to beating Penrith in Monday night’s NRL clash at Sportingbet Stadium.

The Cowboys head to Sydney on the back of four successive wins and a fifth would catapult them into fourth spot, above the Panthers and put them closer to booking a home semi-final.

Segeyaro left the Cowboys last year to join Penrith in one of several shrewd acquisitions made by coach Ivan Cleary and general manager of football Phil Gould.

The scheming hooker has been a key factor in the Panthers’ excellent campaign and Queensland and Test prop Scott said he’s not been surprised at how well he’s fared.

“I think ‘Chicko’ (Segeyaro) has been one of their best out of dummy-half,” Scott said.

“He controls a lot of what they do around the ruck he’s a big key for them and the forwards play off the back of that.

“He can be pretty hard to stop and he gives the momentum to the team. But having said that their back three return the ball very well.

“Kick-chase for us is a big thing and winning the early play-the-balls to limit what ‘Chicko’ does out of dummy-half.”

The Cowboys have the luxury of a nine-day turnaround for the game after last Friday’s 64-6 shellacking of Wests Tigers and Scott said it is much-needed ahead of next Saturday’s clash with South Sydney.

“It’s been good but we’re going to need it with a couple of tough games coming up,” he said.

“We have a week on the road now, but we’ve had a lot of training and plenty of time to work on a few things.”