Both the Northern Pride and the Mackay Cutters brought a steely resolve to the field at Mackay Stadium last night, with the defending premiers eager to prove they could give the top team a run for their money.
In a thrilling finish, the Pride left it until the final minutes to run down a gallant Cutters outfit which had led for the majority of the match.
The first four pointer of the match, scored by Cutters lock Mitch Day, gave Mackay some much needed confidence.
Minutes later Liam Taylor planted one beneath the goal posts, with his two successful conversions bringing the score up to 12-0, shaking the Pride's composure.
Not allowing the Cutters to run away with the lead, the Pride was able to score their first try under the goal posts through Latu Fifita, cutting Mackay's advantage in half and leaving the score at 12-6 going into half time.
The second half took off in a similar way to the first, with Cutters fullback Zac Santo scoring after only five minutes. An unlucky failed conversion left the score at 16-6, where it would stay until a mere 10 minutes from full time.
The Pride’s lack of precision in the first half carried throughout the game, until an incredible Kyle Feldt catch beside the sideline resulted in the team's second try which was soon followed by the match winner in the 78th minute.
Mackay Cutters coach Kim Williams described the result as “heartbreaking”, but said he was still impressed with his team's performance.
"I thought it was a pretty exciting game and pretty good quality in tough conditions,” Williams said.
"I think we outplayed them for the majority of the game but they find a way to win and that's why they're sitting first, and we find a way to lose and that's why we're sitting seventh," he said.
The Cutters may be out of the running for a place in the Intrust Super Cup finals, but Williams said the team would not stop putting in 100%.
"It's a really good feeling around camp. The last couple of months have been fantastic, everyone has been training hard.
"These last two games will be the same, the expectations will be the same as game one. Just get out there and do your best and try and win the game.”
NORTHERN PRIDE 18 (Kyle Feldt, Davin Crampton, Latu Fifita tries; Shaun Nona 3 goals) def MACKAY CUTTERS 16 (Zac Santo, Liam Taylor, Mitch Day tries; Liam Taylor 2 goals) at Stadium Mackay.
Mackay Cutters: 1. Zac Santo 2. Liam Taylor (c) 3. James Uhatafe 4. Curtis Rona 5. Justin Tavae 20. Pulou Vaituutuu 7. Brent Warr 8. Dan Beasley 9. Anthony Mitchell 10. Karl Davies 11. Kelvin Nielsen 12. Chris Gesch 13. Mitch Day 15. Aleki Falepaini 16. Josh Osborne 17. Nico Mataia 18. John Asiata
Northern Pride: 1. Hezron Murgha 2. Linc Port 3. Brett Anderson (c) 22. Kyle Feldt 5. Semi Tadulala 6. Shaun Nona 7. Sam Obst 21. Latu Fifita 9. Jason Roos (c) 10. Jack Svendsen 11. Blake Leary 12. Tyrone McCarthy 13. Tom Hancock 14. Ryan Ghietti 15. Davin Crampton 16. Sheldon Powe-Hobbs 17. Ricky Thorby