Yileen 'Buddy' Gordon was an 18-year old playing his fourth game of NRL when he ran out onto Dairy Farmers Stadium in July, 2005. South Sydney were 14th on the competition ladder while the Cowboys were riding high in fourth place and heading towards their first Grand Final appearance. In his mind, they were just another footy team.
17,000 fanatical Cowboys fans jeered 'Buddy' and his Rabbitohs teammates as they rode their team towards their first Grand Final appearance. They expected their Cowboys to sweep aside the men from Redfern who'd been struggling to find form. But a gritty performance from the Rabbitohs saw them come from behind twice to eventually emerge winners with a 16-14 victory.
For the young 'Buddy' Gordon; it felt exactly like NRL was supposed to.
"As we got close to the game the boys built it up and when I got out there it was a really intense, hard game. It was everything NRL was about," recalls Gordon.
"Very warm conditions, very vocal crowd - anything goes Cowboys way they're all over it. It can be pretty daunting at times but you've got to enjoy it. You've got to enjoy big games and I definitely did and enjoyed every opportunity I had.
"When you run out there you realise they're just another footy team, that's how I think about it.
"Our defence and go-forward was massive compared to other games. The boys really lifted knowing it was a top four team and we went on to win it. The forwards were just dominating a really good pack."
Captain Ashley Harrison led from the front, making 31 tackles and 11 hit-ups while Peter Cusack was huge in the middle of the park, making 32 tackles and 19 hit-ups. Luke Stuart, John Sutton and Harrison scored tries and a Brad Watts penalty goal just four minutes from the end secured victory.
It was a huge win for South Sydney and 'Buddy' remembers how important those kinds of results were for the community in Redfern.
"It was massive to get the win up there because it's similar to lots of graveyards, you go down to Canberra, long trips like that, in the back of your mind you know if you lose it's a long trip home," said Gordon.
"I went up there with all the confidence in the world, thinking; "they're just another team, we can beat them", and we were lucky enough to get the points.
"Everybody seemed to have the same drive; they wanted to make the Club successful. Me, being a junior, coming into that side I was just happy to be there. Once we started winning some games I thought this is where I definitely want to be. It was just a dream come true to put the Red and Green jersey on.
"I think it's always been a community Club. To engage a community is massive. We have such a big fan base here and to get everybody on board, especially with the way the boys are playing at the moment, is massive and can only be an inspiration, as a player, to have those fans behind you."
Match report first appeared on ABC.net.au, posted 16 July, 2005.
By Katie Franklin
South Sydney has upset the North Queensland Cowboys 16-14 in the round 19 National Rugby League match in Townsville.
The Rabbitohs and Cowboys ran in three tries apiece and only a penalty in the dying stages of the match could split the two sides.
The South Sydney forward pack was instrumental in the side's win, captain Ashley Harrison leading the way with 31 tackles and 11 hit-ups.
The win helps the Rabbitohs' quest of avoiding the wooden spoon, while the Cowboys slip out of the top four after the Sharks downed Newcastle 30-26 in extra time at Shark Park.
The Rabbitohs made a bright start to the match with Luke Stuart crossing in the eighth minute after the visitors had achieved an overlap on the left side of the field.
Stuart deceived Cowboys half-back Aaron Payne with a dummy to cross the line basically untouched.
Brad Watts kicked the conversion to give the visitors a 6-0 lead.
The Cowboys responded in quick fashion, Matt Sing crossing for a try after successfully chasing down a Travis Norton chip kick.
Half-back Johnathan Thurston was unsuccessful with the kick and the margin remained at two points.
The Cowboys hit the front for the first time in the match when Justin Smith scored a relatively soft try midway through the half.
Smith barged over when Rabbitohs half-back Mick Moran lost his footing while attempting to tackle the forward close to the line.
Thurston made no mistake with his second attempt and the Cowboys led 10-6.
But the Rabbitohs were far from finished, Harrison crashing over for a try after receiving an inside ball from Moran on the 10 metre line.
The Cowboys went close in the dying stages of half when Sing pounced on a loose ball in the South Sydney in-goal.
But the video referee denied the home side, ruling the ball had been knocked forward off the hand of centre Paul Bowman in the proceeding play.
The Cowboys gained the upper hand early in the second half when a lovely ball from Thurston found Ty Williams, playing in the centres, at speed.
However, Thurston failed to add the extras and the home side's advantage remained four points.
The Rabbitohs, to their credit, maintained their intensity and spread the ball wide deep in North Queensland's half.
The visitors found numbers on the right side of the field and five-eighth John Sutton slipped through the Cowboys' defence to score 20 metres out from the posts.
Watts was again without his kicking boots, the conversion landing well wide.
Play was halted for several minutes when Cowboys winger Neil Sweeney was knocked unconscious in a tackle while attempting to bring the ball out of the in-goal area.
When play finally resumed, the Rabbitohs snared a two-point lead through a penalty goal, awarded after Cowboys forward Smith raked the ball in a two-man tackle.
The Cowboys threw everything at the visitors in the dying stages but their desperation led to mistakes and the Rabbitohs escaped with the two points.