THE Newcastle Knights will fly to Melbourne this week with an iron-clad belief that they can upset the NRL's leaders for the second successive week and extend their winning streak to seven games.
Last week the Knights knocked South Sydney off the top rung on the competition ladder with a 20-12 triumph at ANZ Stadium, allowing Melbourne to leapfrog the Rabbitohs and claim pole position.
And while Newcastle have lost six successive games against the Storm, they will run onto AAMI Park on Saturday supremely confident that they can give as good as they get.
"We're not really the underdogs or dark horses any more, so all the more reason for us to prep as best as we can," Knights prop James Gavet said. "You can never take Melbourne for granted, even after they're coming off a loss or if they've got a few players out.
"They're always a good team, and they're all class.
"And it will be over there [in Melbourne], the game, so we definitely have to make sure we prep well and we take our big guns ... [but] to know where we've come from, and where we are now, it's good to know that we all have complete faith in one another."
Gavet said that while winning breeds confidence, nobody was getting carried away with Newcastle's long-awaited success.
"I'm pretty sure that as soon as anyone starts to get too big for their shoes, everyone will be sure to lay them down and make sure they know where they stand, and where they are," he said.
"It's not the nature of the team, or the town for that matter, to be big-headed, or for anyone to get cocky.
"Our leaders lead with humility, first. All the rest are just following in their footsteps."
Veteran utility Jamie Buhrer, who won a premiership with Manly in 2011, said nobody had even discussed the prospect of making the finals, such was their collective game-by-game focus.
At the halfway point in the season, Newcastle are fifth on the ladder with seven wins and apparently well on their way to a first play-offs appearance since 2013.
"There's certainly a good feeling among the playing group that only comes from winning," Buhrer said.
"We've got a roster that is not entirely used to a streak like this. I don't think there's been one like this for a while.
"So there's a lot of confidence, and probably the most pleasing part is everyone is still eager to learn.
"Everyone's understanding at video that there are still areas we need to improve.
"And for me that's the most exciting [thing], because even though we are playing some good football and we're confident, the boys are still eager to learn and get better."
Buhrer said that if Newcastle could reproduce the effort and energy that has yielded wins against premiers Sydney Roosters and the Rabbitohs in their past two starts, they would be in with a shot against the Storm, who have won four games in a row and 10 of their 12 this season.
"Melbourne are a great test, all the time," Buhrer said.
"It seems like they don't have a down year.
"They're always a quality team. Down in Melbourne, they're always a challenge, and a challenge that we're looking forward to at this point ... it's certainly important that we bring the best of us.
"The best of our wins in the last six weeks, and tidy up some of those areas that we've spoken about internally, which we need to improve."
Gavet said the Storm would present a different challenge to the Roosters and Souths, primarily because of their clinical efficiency in attack.
"It's a different type of footy game," he said.
"With the Roosters and the Rabbits, the big boys crash and bash. You've got to stand up to a bully when you're playing those two teams.
"We did that, but with Melbourne, they're a team that can find a chink in your armour really quick.
"I don't think they'll be as aggressive as the last two teams we've faced, but they can normally find out your weaknesses really quick, and exploit them too.
"As they say, you're only as strong as your weakest player and as fast as your slowest player.
"If everyone puts in this week, and we can study up on what their weaknesses are, we can turn it back on them.
"We'll have complete belief and go into this game with all confidence."
The Knights will welcome back dynamo Kalyn Ponga, who missed the clash with Souths when coach Nathan Brown chose to rest him after his starring role in Origin I.
They will again be without pack leader David Klemmer, who is sidelined with a broken wrist.
Gavet said that in some ways, the absence of Klemmer and Ponga last week was "a blessing in disguise" because Newcastle were able to eke out a win without two of their most influential players.
"Daniel [Saifiti] definitely stuck it to those Burgess boys, and all us other front-rowers, we had his back," he said.
"And we'll do it again this week."