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Year 13 - 2007

Season 2007 may well go down as the 'one that got away' as the North Queensland Toyota Cowboys started the season strongly and went on to record 15 wins and nine losses in the premiership rounds, finishing in the top four to claim a home semi final.

Only a loss to Manly in the preliminary final ruled out a second grand final appearance.

A spate of injuries failed to stifle the club's success, thanks in part to several players really stepping up to take the place of injured personnel.

First Luke O’Donnell missed most of the season, then Carl Webb, Steve Southern, Shane Tronc and Sione Faumuina were missing at key times through injury.

They were replaced by players considered fringe first graders at the start of season 2007 – Ben Vaeau, Matt Bartlett, Sam Faust and Ray Cashmere.

All stood up to be counted and proved they were equal to the task, with Ray Cashmere in particular winning a legion of fans with his spirited play at the back end of the season while Sam Faust proved he is a player of the future.

Personal success came the way of captain Johnathan Thurston in 2007 as he claimed a second Dally M medal as well as representing both Queensland and Australia.

The player of the season though was Matthew Bowen.

Scoring 22 tries in 27 appearances, this was perhaps the Origin representative’s finest NRL season so far.

Paul Bowman, the last of the 1995 Cowboys, retired after 13 years of service and a club record of 203 first grade games at the end of 2007.

He was given a rousing farewell by the home crowd and will take on a coaching role with the club in 2008.

Another player to retire after season 2007 was Jason Smith.

Although only playing one season with the Cowboys, he provided sound experience and leadership to the 2007 squad.

Jason’s first grade career spanned 17 seasons, with 16 test matches for Australia and 16 Origin appearances for Queensland.

He was also the last player still playing NRL to play in the very first Cowboys match on 11 March 1995, when he was with the Canterbury Bulldogs.

There were some low points to the season apart from the injury toll, mainly three big losses which blew out the 'for' and 'against' scores record.

The overall success of the club outweighed these uncharacteristic losses though, and by the time the semi final series began, confidence was high.

After mauling the Warriors in the home semi final, the Cowboys went into the preliminary final full of confidence, but it wasn’t to be.

History was also made in the Queensland cup with the 2007 Toyota Young Guns the last ever to compete in the Queensland Cup.

The final Toyota Young Guns season ended in similar fashion to the NRL squad, going down in the preliminary final and finishing third, with captain Shane Muspratt leading Queensland in the Residents' clash.

For season 2008 both Cairns and Mackay will field sides, with former Young Guns spread between the two centres.

Season statistics

  • Captain: Johnathan Thurston, Aaron Payne
  • Coach: Graham Murray
  • Won 17, lost 10 (15 premiership rounds + 2 semi final victories)
  • Points for 622, points against 676
  • Top point scorer: Johnathan Thurston (196)
  • Finished third, preliminary finalists
  • Player of the Year: Matthew Bowen

Representative players

  • Matthew Bowen, Johnathan Thurston, Jacob Lillyman, Carl Webb: Qld State of Origin
  • Shane Muspratt: Qld Residents (c)
  • Johnathan Thurston: Australia
  • David Faiumu: NZ