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Five of the Best: Wins Against the Cowboys

While the Roosters and the Cowboys have been at opposites ends of the NRL ladder over the last few seasons, there have been plenty of intense clashes between the two clubs since 1995.

We’ve condensed it down to Five of the Best victories against North Queensland in chronological order. 


Back on Track - Round 6, 2002 

Season 2002 was a memorable one for Roosters Members and supporters as first-year coach Ricky Stuart guided the Tricolours to the Club’s 12th Premiership, breaking a 27-year drought in the process.

But a big win over South Sydney in the opening round of the competition was compounded with a horrific injury toll which led to four consecutive losses heading into the Round 6 match against the Cowboys. 

The cavalry was back for this encounter at the Sydney Football Stadium - including captain Brad Fittler - and they certainly didn't disappoint the Chookpen Faithful, piling on a whopping eleven tries in a 58-12 demolition.

Celebrations: Anthony Minichiello congratulates his centre Justin Hodges on scoring a try.
Celebrations: Anthony Minichiello congratulates his centre Justin Hodges on scoring a try.

Winger Todd Byrne and Craig Wing bagged doubles, while the entirety of the backline including Brett Mullins coming from the bench found themselves on the scoresheet in a colossal victory. 

Sydney Roosters 58 (Todd Byrne 2, Craig Wing 2, Shannon Hegarty, Justin Hodges, Dallas Hood, Anthony Minichiello, Brett Mullins, Luke Phillips, Luke Ricketson tries; Justin Holbrook 7 goals) def North Queensland Cowboys 12 


Reaching a Third Decider - Preliminary Final, 2004

Everything was on the line in this one and there were plenty of early fireworks as the two sides came together as the Roosters reached their third consecutive Grand Final.

Coming up against surprise packets in the Cowboys in their first finals series, the Red, White and Blue struck first with some slick offloading sending centre Ryan Cross over to score, with two Craig Fitzgibbon penalty goals giving the side a 10-6 lead at the break.

On the Board: Roosters centre Ryan Cross touches down early on, beating out Cowboys fullback Matt Bowen to the line.
On the Board: Roosters centre Ryan Cross touches down early on, beating out Cowboys fullback Matt Bowen to the line.

But North Queensland levelled the scores with another try five minutes into the second stanza, but the Tricolours regained the lead as Brad Fittler touched down to score unopposed. 

With less than fifteen minutes remaining, the scores were level at 16-all as the Cowboys crossed again, but the Roosters edged out their opponents in the dying stages with a Brett Finch field goal and third penalty goal from Fitzgibbon sent them to the 2004 decider. 

Sydney Roosters 19 (Ryan Cross, Brad Fittler tries; Craig Fitzgibbon 3 goals; Brett Finch field goal) def North Queensland Cowboys 16

Into Another: Brad Fittler gives a thumbs up as his side reaches a third consecutive Grand Final.
Into Another: Brad Fittler gives a thumbs up as his side reaches a third consecutive Grand Final.

Close Shave - Semi-Final, 2014

Few could predict that the Roosters would kick-off the 2014 finals series with two back-to-back one-point thrillers, but that's exactly what happened as they edged out the Cowboys in a dramatic high-scoring contest at the SFS. 

Licking their wounds after a 19-18 loss against the Penrith Panthers the week prior, the Tricolours shot out of the blocks with Mitchell Pearce dashed 90 metres downfield to score after intercepting a fifth-tackle kick to open the scoring. 

A short-side raid saw James Maloney float a cut-out to Daniel Tupou, and the Roosters made it three tries in 20 minutes as Michael Jennings dived on a Maloney grubber which was halted by the goalposts. 

Five minutes later Tupou was over for his second as burst through the defence to streak away for a long-range four-pointer, and after Maloney barged over to score himself, the Red, White and Blue found themselves with a 30-nil lead after as many minutes. 

Despite the Cowboys striking twice in quick succession, the Roosters were still in command 30-12 at the break, although the tide would swing in the second half.

Roosters v Cowboys | Semi-Final, 2014

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Five minutes into the second half, North Queensland closed the deficit as Johnathan Thurston crossed, and in the next ten minutes, the visitors struck twice to surprisingly level the scores at 30-all with just under half an hour remaining.

Through a strenuous 20 minute period, the points dried up as neither side could grab the lead, before a cool, calm and collected James Maloney sank a field goal to give his side a 31-30 lead with five minutes left. 

The shadows of full-time weren't without drama though, as the Cowboys looked to have scored a try with less than a minute remaining, only for the video referee to identify a knock-on in the process. From there, the Tricolours marched on and completed a closely fought, hard-earned 31-30 victory. 

Sydney Roosters 31 (Daniel Tupou 2, Mitchell Pearce, Michael Jennings, James Maloney tries; James Maloney 5 goals; James Maloney field goal) def North Queensland Cowboys 30


Ikuvalu Creates History - Round 9, 2020

The disrupted 2020 season threw a spanner in the works for the competition, but by Round 9 the NRL was back up and running with the Roosters on track for yet another finals appearance. 

Coming up against the Cowboys at the brand-new Queensland Country Bank Stadium in Townsville, winger Matt Ikuvalu - who was a late replacement for Brett Morris on gameday - created history by scoring five tries. 

Highlights | Cowboys v Roosters

Ikuvalu became the first Rooster to do so since Brian Allsop in 1955, however it was a tight affair to start with for the side, with a 64% completion rate seeing the scoreline at just 12-6 at the break thanks to a try to Sitili Tupouniua. 

But Trent Robinson's men exploded in the second stanza, scoring five times in the ensuing 20 minutes to solidify the result, which saw five-eighth Luke Keary bag a double himself as they cruised to a 42-12 victory. 


Sydney Roosters 42 (Matt Ikuvalu 5, Luke Keary 2, Sitili Tupouniua tries; Kyle Flanagan 5 goals) def North Queensland Cowboys 12



Round 10 Match Highlights: Roosters v Cowboys

Tedesco Trickery Trumps Cowboys - Magic Round, 2021

In a scrappy yet entertaining affair at Suncorp Stadium it was Roosters Captain James Tedesco leading the charge as the Roosters overcame the Cowboys at Suncorp Stadium.

Easts were on the board just six minutes in as Daniel Tupou tip-toed around the sideline, and gained a 10-nil lead soon after as halfback Sam Walker combined with Victor Radley to score himself.

Matt Ikuvalu and Angus Crichton found the line soon after to extend the lead, but the momentum quickly shifted with a sin-binning allowing the Cowboys to strike back in quick succession, coming within two points. 

But Tedesco stood up with half an hour remaining, bursting through to put Crichton over for his second before playing a hand in the match-sealing try which saw Tupou bag his own brace. 

Sydney Roosters 30 (Angus Crichton 2, Daniel Tupou 2, Sam Walker, Matt Ikuvalu, tries; Sam Walker 2 goals; Adam Keighran penalty goal) def North Queensland Cowboys 16

Acknowledgement of Country

Sydney Roosters respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.