TWO teams now stand 80 minutes away from premiership glory and on the face of things they couldnt be more different.
Representing the south-east corner the Easts Tigers have been singled out as a team to look out for all season a team with their home-grown talent excellently complemented by their strong relationship as a feeder team to the Melbourne Storm.
Carrying the hopes of the north of the state are the Mackay Cutters who despite finishing second on the ladder this season have continued to fly under the radar; so much so they didnt even rate a mention as premiership contenders at the recent QRL Gala Dinner.
But following their strong performance to end the season of minor premiers the Northern Pride last weekend people have realised they have the team who can mount a challenge to the favourites and will have reinforcements of their own from NRL club the North Queensland Cowboys.
Although Jason Taumalolos XXXX man of the match performance attracted much of the attention after last Sundays game the contribution of the rest of the Mackay forwards cannot be understated, with less well-known names like Chris Gesch, Dean Webster and Karl Davies also strong; while captain Jardine Bobongie continued to lead from the front.
Speaking in the lead-up to the decider, Bobongie said that while it was going to be a full-on week for him and the team they were looking forward to the challenge.
We have made it now its a good feeling I have been with the club for five years and in my first year (2009) we got the wooden spoon so we have come a long way since I first started, the former local junior said.
We were flying under the radar but we had a tough game against Easts (in the qualifying final) and they showed us their class.
We also had another tough game against Ipswich and that helped us for our game against the Pride.
Easts have a star-studded pack so we all have to step up to the plate and follow the game plan and have everyone on board.
While the Cutters will be aiming to write their own fairytale winning their first premiership and doing it in the name of a lost team-mate; the Tigers too have a story of their own to write.
Their first grand final appearance since their 2004 extra-time heartbreak against Burleigh the Tigers will also want an orange and black tide to wash away the disappointment of the last time the club had all three grades represented on grade final day, where in 1997 they lost all three deciders.
Tigers coach Craig Ingebrigtsen spoke to QRL TV after his sides recent qualifying final win over the Cutters and knows they will not be afforded the same opening to the game which saw his side jump out to a 26-0 halftime lead.
Mackay are a good side, we knew they were going to come at us hard and in the end we withstood it, the first-year coach of the Tigers said.
We didnt play all that well in the second half; we have to learn how to put sides away, but I am happy we got the result.
While the battle of the forwards will be one contest, the Tigers can also play their trump card throughout the match in this years Courier Mail Medallist Cody Walker.
His point-scoring ability this season has been something to marvel at, and signed by the Storm for the 2014 season many are predicting he can be the first player to take home the player of the year award and the premiership since Shannon Walker (Tweed Heads) in 2007.
Hes been really good hes a level-headed young fellow Cody and hes a pretty grounded sort of bloke, Ingebrigtsen said of his star half.
Hes been pretty grounded all week and weve just gone on with business basically.