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Year 11 - 2005

2005 would be recorded as the best ever in the Club's 11-year history.

Registering 14 wins and 32 competition points to finish 5th in the regular season, before overcoming an early finals loss to surge to a maiden Grand Final appearance, the North Queensland Toyota Cowboys gave great pride to all of their supporters.

A gallant loss to the Wests Tigers in the NRL Grand Final brought the club legions of new fans throughout the rugby league community with their entertaining style of play.

The tone of the season was set in round two, when after a first round away loss to the Brisbane Broncos, the North Queensland Toyota Cowboys won their first home match, defeating defending premiers Canterbury Bulldogs with an emphatic 24-12 win.

New recruit Carl Webb set the scene by scoring a classic try, reminiscent of his 2001 Origin performance, and for most of the season the Cowboys were in a similar winning frame of mind, with a hard edge to their flamboyant attacking style, matched by solid defence.

Intermittent losses punctuated the first half of the season, but leading up to Origin time the Cowboys were a dominant force, reflected in the selection of six players plus trainer Billy Johnstone in the Queensland Origin campaign.

A real highlight of the season before the finals series was a huge away win three days after the first Origin match, again against Canterbury, played at the Gold coast.

The speed, agility and combination of the Cowboys was simply brilliant as they swept aside the 2004 premiers for a second time in the season 48-12, with five of their players backing up after a gruelling Origin encounter.

A massive victory over the Cronulla Sharks the following week meant that in the first 13 rounds of the season, the Cowboys had won eight and lost just three matches.

A "flat" patch followed, however, as in the second half of the season the team began to struggle slightly with injury and suspension and recorded six wins and six losses plus a bye.

Three wins came in the last three rounds of the regular season to cement a 5th spot finish and a place in the finals series campaign for the second year running.

Alarm bells sounded, however, when in the first semi final, the Cowboys were hammered 6-50 by the Wests Tigers, and only favourable outcomes by other teams in the same finals round kept their campaign alive.

The character and resolve of the team was very evident when they bounced back a week later with a well constructed defeat of the Melbourne Storm, putting their finals campaign back on track.

A superb effort followed with the shutting out premiership favourites Parramatta in the preliminary final through a 29-0 win to book a place in the 2005 NRL Grand Final.

This brilliant preliminary final victory was the biggest win by any club in such a match since 1982 when ironically Parramata defeated the Roosters 33-0.

(In addition, by this preliminary final the Cowboys were the only side remaining in contention from the top four of the 2004 season.)

Grand Final fever hit North Queensland in style as thousands of supporters travelled to Sydney for the big day and again the team travelled to the airport via the City to allow the legion of fans, especially school children, to cheer on the side.

The 2005 Grand Final had a special feel to it as two relative new football club entities, both representing districts and regions steeped in rugby league history and folklore took to the field for the decider.

The West Tigers ran out eventual 30-16 winners, but the Cowboys did their fans and communities proud in the way they played the game, and also off the field, in the way they presented themselves, both as a team and as individuals.

In the Queensland Wizard Cup, the depth of the North Queensland Toyota Cowboys club was evident when the North Queensland Toyota Young Guns won the competition grand final 34-4 over the Burleigh Bears.

This victory at Suncorp Stadium provided inspiration to the senior side just hours before their clash with the Melbourne Storm in the major semi final.

To cap a fine season, Cowboys Luke O'Donnell was named in the Kangaroo squad to play the Tri-Nations series, including the tour of England, while Billy Johnstone continued his role as Australian team trainer.

In other representative matches Graham Murray continued to coach City in the annual NSW City/Country clash.

The North Queensland Toyota Cowboys banner flies high over the rugby league landscape after season 2005.

Season statistics

  • Captains: Travis Norton, Paul Rauhihi
  • Coach: Graham Murray (Neil Henry, Kelly Egan – Assistant Coaches)
  • Principal Sponsor: Toyota
  • Won 14, lost 10
  • Points for 714, points against 659 (regular season 639-563)
  • Top point scorer: Josh Hannay (152)
  • Finished: 5th in regular season
  • Finished runner up (2nd) overall after Grand Final appearance
  • Average Home crowd: 20,490

Representative players

  • Matt Sing, Matthew Bowen, Ty Williams, Johnathan Thurston, Carl Webb, Paul Bowman: Qld State of Origin
  • Luke O'Donnell: Australia, Tri-Nations series, Kangaroo tour
  • Paul Rauhihi and David Faiumu: NZ, Tri-Nations series

Representative coaches/support staff

  • Graham Murray: Coach, NSW City
  • Billy Johnstone: Trainer, Qld and Australia
  • Glen Murphy: Trainer, NSW City
  • Tim Nugent: Media Officer, NSW City