42 matches [1995-2021]
23 wins, 19 losses
North Queensland were one of the four expansion teams introduced to the newly named Australian Rugby League (ARL) for the 1995 season.
The first meeting between the Panthers and the Cowboys was at Penrith Stadium on 1 July 1995. The home team had led 14-4 at half time, and powered on in the second half to cross for five more tries to run out comfortable 40-10 victors.
In 1996, Penrith ventured to Townsville for the first time, and made it 2 from 2 with a 21-0 shut out at Stockland Stadium.
In 1997, both teams participated in the Super League, and for the first time met twice in a season. Honours were split, but didn’t fall in favour of the home team – Penrith won 19-12 at Stockland Stadium in Round 3, the Cowboys finally recorded their first victory in their fourth meeting, winning by 7 in a high scoring encounter at Penrith Stadium.
1998 saw it revert back to the one off meeting, with the Cowboys travelling down to Penrith. The Panthers looked to have the match in control with a commanding 26-0 lead at half time, however, they inexplicably capitulated by conceding 36 points in the second half, and lose 36-28. It was at the time the biggest recorded comeback in premiership history – one that would be equalled by Penrith themselves 11 years later at the same venue against the New Zealand Warriors.
The Panthers would continue to grow an advantage in the head to head ledger, although on occasion the Cowboys were able to get one back. However, between 1999 and 2004, Penrith would win 8 of the 10 meetings, with the Panthers hitting at least 30 points in 5 of those matches. The biggest one of those victories was at Penrith Stadium late in the 2004 season – the home team converted an 18-6 half time lead into a 56-6 annihilation at full time. It remains the Panthers biggest ever win against the Cowboys to date, and their fourth ever biggest win overall.
Another notable match was a first for both teams at Dairy Farmers in 2003. Being locked up at 24-all at full time, both teams would play their first ever golden point match (and the second one ever overall). Penrith had actually forced the draw courtesy of a try with only 3 seconds remaining in regular time. In the final minute of the golden point period, Joe Galuvao crashed over to record a 4 point victory – it would the final victory in their still club record 8 straight match winning streak.
At the end of the 2004 season, the teams had met 16 times, with Penrith winning 11 and North Queensland 5.
By 2005, the Cowboys were no longer cellar dwellers and were on the rise in the premiership stakes – North Queensland qualified for its maiden finals series in 2004 and were grand finalists in 2005.
The Cowboys would win the next three (both meetings in 2005, including a crushing 38-18 win in Townsville) and the first meeting in 2006, but the Panthers would win 4 of the next 5 on the bounce, to the end of 2009 – the solitary loss was in golden point at Penrith in 2007, whilst there was yet another golden point thriller at Dairy Farmers Stadium in 2008, with a Jarrad Sammut field goal (struck at an angle from close range and hitting the right upright before rebounding back in) getting the points for the visitors.
So far this decade, the Cowboys have the better of the running, winning 8 of the 13 meetings from 2010 to 2018. Five of the Panthers victories have been at home – the fifth one was a 33-14 victory at 1300SMILES Stadium in 2018, which was their first win in Townsville since 2009.
At Penrith during this time, the Panthers have suffered their heaviest defeat against the Cowboys (4-36 in 2013), however, turned in one of the more memorable encounters the following year. In a see sawing second half encounter, the two teams were locked up at 22-all with 10 minutes remaining, before Matt Moylan executed the clutch play by slotting a field goal with 90 seconds remaining to record a 23-22 victory.