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Year 10 - 2004


After the first three rounds of the 2004 season, Cowboy supporters had little reason to smile.

A first round loss to Manly at home, followed by two more home losses and a bye until the first away game of the season against Cronulla in round five saw the first win of the season.

By round seven, with just one win and five losses, the Cowboys held a disappointing 13th position on the premiership ladder.

Then came another away win, this time over Parramatta, which history can record as a turning point in the Club's most successful season to date.

By the end of the 26 round season, the Cowboys had won 12, drawn one (the first ever draw in the NRL in the age of golden point) and lost 11, but more importantly, they held 7th position and a first ever top eight appearance.

It was a tough road to success in 2004 with injuries again taking key players out of action, including Matt Sing who suffered a broken jaw in the State of Origin series and Glenn Morrison who suffered a broken back mid season.

A sure sign of the growing stature of the Club was evident when new players were able to step up to the top squad from the Young Guns to cover such injuries.

Players like Shane Tronc and Steve Southern were fine examples of first grade debutantes who replaced injured players and went on to play significant roles in the Club's success of 2004.

The finals series proved to be of immense importance to the Club and the North Queensland community.

Not only did long term supporters have much to cheer about, but the Cowboys also captured the imagination of rugby league supporters throughout Australia with their charge into the final series.

In just three finals matches, the Cowboys tasted victories over eventual premiers the Bulldogs and the Brisbane Broncos before losing narrowly to Sydney City.

In the process they stole the headlines of newspapers.

The semi final against the Brisbane Broncos, played in front of a packed Dairy Farmers Stadium, gave the Cowboys a chance to thank their long term supporters, as well as welcome many new ones!

After wild scenes at the Townsville airport before and after the victory over the Canterbury Bulldogs, the Cowboys played at home against the Broncos amid scenes of hysteria and adulation never before experienced as the region fully supported their team.

After defeating the Broncos, they travelled to Sydney to meet eventual grand finalists Sydney Roosters and came within seconds of winning a grand final berth.

Losing the preliminary final by just 16-19, the Cowboys had come of age in 2004.

Apart from going within a match of a grand final appearance, the club also maintained its proud record of producing representative players.

Significantly the 2004 Cowboys had a good away match record, another sign of the growing success of the club.

Perhaps a lasting legacy of season 2004 is that the North Queensland Cowboys had fulfilled the belief held in them by long term supporters, plus they had given many rugby league supporters a reason to smile no matter what part of the country they were in, as the Cowboys were fast becoming many supporters' second team.

Season statistics
  • Captains: Travis Norton, Paul Bowman, Paul Rauhihi, Glenn Morrison (1 match)
  • Coach: Graham Murray
  • Principal Sponsor: Toyota
  • Won 12, lost 11, drew 1
  • Finals: won 2, lost 1
  • Points for 582, points against 555
  • Top point scorer: Josh Hannay (228)
  • Finished 7th, qualified for top 8
  • Finished: 3rd overall after final series
  • Average home crowd: 16,969
Representative players/coaches
  • Matt Sing, Matthew Bowen, Travis Norton, Paul Bowman: Qld State of Origin
  • Glenn Morrison: NSW Country
  • Matt Sing, Matthew Bowen: Australia
  • Paul Rauhihi: New Zealand
  • Graham Murray: Coach of NSW City
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