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AGNES Water Marlins are the first team thought to the Northern Districts grand final in just their second year in existence after upsetting minor premiers and hosts Miriam Vale Magpies 34-28 in the major semi-final on Sunday.

The Marlins had beaten the Magpies in the last round a week earlier and they again proved too good, sentencing the perennial finalists to their fourth straight defeat, although they had to survive a late Miriam Vale comeback.

The minor semi-final also went right down to the wire in a pulsating end-to-end duel, but Avondale Tigers also repeated their last-round victory over Gin Gin Hawks, although it took a last-minute try to clinch a 44-36 triumph.

The ever dangerous Ricky Noy bagged a hat-trick of tries for the Magpies but the Marlins prevailed seven tries to five with mercurial five-eighth Tim McIntosh again leading the charge with 14 points from two tries and three conversions.

Nicholas Carey also notched a double for Agnes Water, who will now have a week off before contesting the grand final in Gin Gin on Sunday week.

Gin Gin had been the boom team over the last three months but after question marks were raised with their final round loss to Avondale, their quest for the premiership is now over despite Shaun Proctor wreaking havoc with a personal haul of three tries.

Avondale led 22-18 at the break but they looked to have the match within their keeping when they added an unanswered 18 points, but Gin Gin picked themselves up off the canvas and got back to within four points, and they may have been unlucky not to draw level as they also had two tries disallowed in a frenzied 10-minute period.

But ultimately, game breaker Matt Ross, who was at his explosive best, drove a dagger through their hearts with his second try in the dying minute.

David Jones also finished well for two four-pointers but barnstorming second rower Daniel Steemson and the also tough as teak Craig Bek played pivotal roles in stamping their domination in the forwards, each with signature heavyweight all-round performances.

By chance, the Tigers were awarded hosting rights for the preliminary final when the season draw was drafted at the start of the year, and with a boisterous home crowd behind them, they will take a power of beating as they battle with the Magpies for the other place in the decider, hoping to keep their hopes alive of ending a 10-year premiership drought.

Minor semi: Avondale 44 (David Jones 2, Matt Ross 2, Nathan Leather, Daniel Walls, Craig Bek, Chris Robertson tries; Andrew Filo 6 goals) d Gin Gin 36 (Shaun Proctor 3, Todd Blair, Ryan McLeod, Shane Blair, Ashley Helmore tries; Helmore 4 goals).

Major semi: Agnes Water 34 (Nicholas Carey 2, Tim McIntosh 2, Andrew Noy, Mitchum Dawes, Koloba Vuninaqa tries; McIntosh 3 goals) d Miriam Vale 28 (Ricky Noy 3, Jordan Kellet, Brendan Ziebell tries; Matt Mikkelsen 2, Ricky Noy, Aaron Causton).