Six of the seven clubs that joined the Toyota Cowboys in the 2014 NRL finals series will be making the trip to 1300SMILES Stadium in 2015, setting up a huge schedule of home matches for members to enjoy.
The Cowboys will start the year on a record run of 11 straight home victories.
Here’s a brief rundown on what you can expect to see at our home ground in our 20th anniversary season:
• Round 1 v Roosters (8pm, Saturday 7 March)
• Round 2 v Newcastle (8pm, Saturday 14 March)
• Round 4 v Melbourne (6pm, Monday 30 March)
• Round 7 v NZ Warriors (7.30pm, Saturday 18 April)
• Round 9 v Canterbury (7.30pm, Saturday 9 May)
• Round 10 v Brisbane (7.40pm, Friday 15 May)
• Round 12 v Manly (7.30pm, Saturday 30 May)
• Round 16 v Cronulla (5.30pm, Saturday 27 June)
• Round 20 v Parramatta (7pm, Monday, 27 July)
• Round 21 v Canberra (TBA)
• Round 23 v South Sydney (TBA)
• Round 26 v Gold Coast (TBA)
Round 1 v Roosters (8pm, Saturday 7 March): Surely this game won’t be like the last one between the two clubs in last season’s qualifying final. The Roosters led 30-0 before the courageous Cowboys fought back to 30-all and then figured in another controversial finals exit, losing 31-30. This should be one of the showcase matches of the season with both clubs keen to make a winning start to 2015. Last meeting at 1300SMILES: Cowboys 42 Roosters 10 (2014).
Round 2 v Newcastle (8pm, Saturday 14 March): Newcastle were kept tryless on their last trip north but then beat the Cowboys later in the year at Hunter Stadium. Rick Stone is back in charge as coach to try to lead Newcastle back to the finals but ex-Cowboy Tariq Sims will be missing from this game due to his carryover suspension from last year. Last meeting at 1300SMILES: Cowboys 28 Roosters 2 (2014).
Round 4 v Melbourne (6pm, Monday 30 March): The third home game in March is another blockbuster against Melbourne and their trio of Queensland stars – Smith, Slater and Cronk. The Storm have won two of their last three in Townsville. Last meeting at 1300SMILES: Cowboys 22 Storm 0 (2014).
Round 7 v NZ Warriors (7.30pm, Saturday 18 April): The Warriors are back for the first 7.30pm home game kick off of the 2015 season. NZ do not have a great recent record in Townsville, winning just once in their last nine visits – last season’s round three clash when the Cowboys were enduring a slow start to their first year under coach Paul Green. Last meeting at 1300SMILES: Warriors 20 Cowboys 16 (2014).
Round 9 v Canterbury (7.30pm, Saturday 9 May): This will be a special night, bringing back memories of the Dogs’ first trip to North Queensland for the Cowboys’ debut game in 1995. It will be only the second time since 2010 that last season’s runners-up have played at 1300SMILES Stadium. Last meeting at 1300SMILES: Bulldogs 36 Cowboys 26 (2013).
Round 10 v Brisbane (7.40pm, Friday 15 May): The game all Queensland league fans look forward to – the Queensland derby in Townsville – is the second of back-to-back home matches for the Cowboys. Wayne Bennett will be back in NQ as Brisbane coach for the first time since 2008 and will notice that the crowd is much more pro-Cowboys than those days. Last meeting at 1300SMILES: Cowboys 32 d Broncos 20 (2014).
Round 12 v Manly (7.30pm, Saturday 30 May): The third in a string of eye-catching home games sees the Eagles come to town three days after the State of Origin series opener that should feature a host of players from both teams. Cowboys v Manly matches have had an extra bit of spice in them in recent years with the Eagles having a slight edge thanks to a couple of very controversial wins south of the border. Last meeting at 1300SMILES: Cowboys 30 d Sea Eagles 16 (2014).
Round 16 v Cronulla (5.30pm, Saturday 27 June): After a month away from home, the Cowboys will enjoy playing in familiar surroundings against a team that has been very busy in the player market in the off-season. Everyone remembers last season’s thriller when the finals-chasing North Queenslanders needed a Johnathan Thurston field goal in golden point extra-time to down the under-manned Sharks. Last meeting at 1300SMILES: Cowboys 20 d Sharks 19 (2014).
Round 20 v Parramatta (7pm, Monday, 27 July): The Eels have conceded 40 points or more in each of their last three appearances at 1300SMILES Stadium, with their last victory in Townsville being just over five years ago when they visit in 2015. Last meeting at 1300SMILES: Cowboys 42 Eels 14 (2014).
Round 21 v Canberra (TBA): The Raiders will appreciate coming to North Queensland towards the end of winter instead of venturing north in round one like they did in 2014. The Cowboys have won seven in a row at home against Canberra with the Raiders’ last win coming back in 2006. Last meeting at 1300SMILES: Cowboys 28 d Raiders 22 (2014).
Round 23 v South Sydney (TBA): The reigning premiers will be the second last team to travel north in the home and away rounds. By then, we will know how much of an impact the loss of Sam Burgess has had on the Rabbitohs and how good a season their superstar Greg Inglis is having. Last meeting at 1300SMILES: Cowboys 20 d Rabbitohs 18 (2014).
Round 26 v Gold Coast (TBA): Strangely, this is the only clash between the two Queensland clubs in 2015. Neil Henry’s return to Townsville as coach of the Titans could be in a game vital to both teams’ finals chances in the last round of the competition. Last meeting at 1300SMILES: Cowboys 28 d Titans 8 (2014).