Cessnock opened the Newcastle Rugby League season with three losses from four starts and were equal last on the competition ladder.
The Goannas are unbeaten ever since, stringing together wins against Macquarie, leaders Western Suburbs and most recently Kurri Kurri to now sit equal third on the overall standings with a game in hand.
Having turned the corner the Coalfields club travels to Maitland Sportsground on Saturday and meets the Pickers, who are also on eight points and beat Cessnock in round one.
Goannas coach Todd Edwards puts the change in fortunes down to belief.
"Maybe we're starting to believe," Edwards, who returned to former side Cessnock this season after a year at Lakes, told the Newcastle Herald.
"I think they [the players] were adjusting to me and I was adjusting to them. It's taken some time but we're starting to get there.
"I've been really proud of the boys the last few weeks and we've beaten a couple of quality sides."
Cessnock welcome back Joe Bromage from the Knights, who have the bye in NSW Cup, but are missing in-form Steve Waetford (tricep), who is second in the 2019 player of the year rankings.
"Steve [Waetford] has been absolutely outstanding for us," Edwards said.
"At the moment I'm actually trying to convince him to go around again."
Paul Carter shifts to hooker for Waetford.
Edwards said Marvin Filipo and Josh Charles remain sidelined.
Maitland have Tyler Perrin and Reeve Howard coming in for injured pair Jeremy Gibson (ankle) and Isaac Upton (broken arm) at halfback and fullback respectively.
Frazer Price (chest) has been cleared to play for the Pickers while Marco Delapena is expected to return.
Elsewhere in round nine on Saturday, Macquarie have named Daniel Abraham at five-eighth to play Kurri Kurri as the Scorpions look to snap a four-match losing streak and claim their first win at home at Peacock Field since round three last year.
Western Suburbs are giving fullback Sam Keenan (ankle) until the last minute to prove his fitness for the Rosellas' clash with Lakes at Harker Oval.
Sunday sees second-placed defending champions South Newcastle, who have won three on the trot, at home to Central Newcastle at Townson Oval.
Meanwhile, Wests utility Ryan Walsh has been elevated from the bench to starting halfback for the NSW Pioneers representative side next weekend following the withdrawal of Ron Massey Cup player Zach Nicholls.
Sydney-based duo Maliko Falino and Ryan King are the replacements for unavailable pair Eddie Aiono and Magnus Stromquist.
South Newcastle prop Luke Higgins has now been named 18th man for the trip to Brisbane, which will have the visitors up against the Queensland Rangers.