Ahead of the NRL’s two juicy semi-final showdowns this weekend Throwback Thursday is rewinding to two famous post-season classics between these clubs.
North Queensland qualified for its maiden finals series in 2004, and went on a fairytale run to the preliminary final from seventh spot by claiming the scalps of the Bulldogs and Broncos.
The Cowboys met minor premiers and red-hot favourites Sydney Roosters for a berth in the Grand Final – and the upstarts from Townsville gave the heavyweights an almighty scare. Second-half tries to Brad Fittler and Ty Williams left the scores tied at 16-all before a Brett Finch field goal with five to go broke the deadlock, the Roosters eventually advancing 19-16.
2004 Preliminary final: Roosters 19 (Ryan Cross, Brad Fittler tries; Craig Fitzgibbon 5 goals; Brett Finch field goal) d. Cowboys 16 (Ty Williams 2, Paul Bowman tries; Josh Hannay 2 goals).
Back in 1995, the Bulldogs quashed suggestions it would be impossible to win the competition from outside the top four in the newly introduced eight-team finals series.
The Dogs were ravaged by internal strife after the outbreak of the Super League, but after limping into the finals in sixth, they rolled St George, Brisbane and Canberra – the other clubs to play in Grand Finals in the preceding three years – to reach the decider.
Minor premiers Manly, with only two losses from 24 matches, started as unbackable favourites in the Grand Final. But the star-studded Sea Eagles saved their worst performance of the season for the game’s biggest stage
The Terry Lamb-inspired Bulldogs pulled off a 17-4 success – albeit with a blatant forward pass for their first try and an infamous seventh-tackle touchdown during the second half – in one of the great Grand Final upsets.
1995 Grand Final: Bulldogs 17 (Steve Price, Glen Hughes, Rod Silva tries; Daryl Halligan two goals; Terry Lamb field goal) d. Sea Eagles 4 (Matthew Ridge 2 goals).