Ivanhoe Knights have one foot in the finals after a tense 16-16 draw with rivals Edmonton Storm in Round 20 of the Cairns District Rugby League A Grade competition at Smithfield Sporting Complex on Friday night.
Ivanhoes are now firm favourites to land a top five spot after Storm’s Steven Murgha missed a late field goal attempt to snatch two points for the visitors.
The Knights are now two points clear of Storm and Mareeba, and just have to avoid a heavy defeat against Innisfail and freak results elsewhere, with their final round as a bye and a guaranteed two points.
A Ben Reed double and a try to Brad Quodling inspired Ivanhoes, while Edmonton were thankful to Jermaine Pryor (2) and Wade Smith for helping to secure a deserved point.
Pryor won the LD Total Cairns CDRL Player of the Round for his brace of tries and overall strong effort.
Knights coach Ben Rauter admitted his side had the finals in the back of their minds against Edmonton.
“We pushed a few passes that we shouldn’t have but in the end we got the one point we wanted,” Rauter told The Cairns Post.
“It wasn’t a pretty match and I thought with the errors we made we could have gone close to losing it. But we’ll take the one point any day.”
Edmonton coach Cameron Miller was left to rue a missed opportunity, but was full of praise for his troops and refused to give up on the finals.
“Both sides had their chances to win it and it was just a good, hard game, but I could not have been more proud of our efforts,” Miller told The Cairns Post.
“I had 17 blokes that put everything on the line and that’s all I could ask for.
“Fingers crossed some things will go our way now. Anything could happen.”
The top of the table clash between Tully and Brothers also proved to be an epic affair, with both sides unable to be separated after a dramatic 22-22 draw at Tully Showgrounds.
Tigers halfback Jake Clifford slotted a penalty goal in the dying minutes to level matters, and keep his side on top of the ladder on points difference in the race for the minor premiership.
Mossman-Port Douglas kept alive their slim finals hopes with another impressive victory, this time an exciting 42-34 triumph over reigning premiers Cairns Kangaroos.
George Toby, Quinlyn Cannon and Shaun Bowen all scored doubles for the hosts in a 14-try bonanza for the Mossman Showgrounds crowd.
Mareeba, with Ian King (two tries) a standout, also remain with a distant hope of a top five finish after a nail-biting 20-18 win over fourth-placed Southern Suburbs at Davies Park.
Meanwhile, Yarrabah found their try-scoring mojo with a thumping 13-try 70-24 win over Atherton Roosters at Jilara Oval.
Jayden Kynuna scored a hat-trick for the free-scoring hosts, while Andrew Garrett and Sam Bann scored twice each.
Innisfail Leprechauns had a bye.
2015 DAVID MCCOY HOMES CAIRNS KEY REAL ESTATE A GRADE - ROUND 20 RESULTS:
FRIDAY 7 AUGUST
Ivanhoe Knights 16 (B. Reed 2, Quodling tries; Verney 2 goals) drew with Edmonton Storm 16 (Pryor 2, Smith tries; Tatipata 2 goals) at Smithfield Sporting Complex.
SATURDAY 8 AUGUST
Tully Tigers 22 (Afungia 2, Miglio, Tauli tries; Clifford 3 goals) drew with Cairns Brothers 22 (Fitzpatrick, Emery-Hunia, Rea, Guilgo, Doolah tries; Emery-Hunia goal) at Tully Showgrounds.
Mossman-Port Douglas Sharks 42 (Toby 2, S. Bowen 2, Cannon 2, Burchill, Lightning tries; Cobb 3, Amber 2 goals) def Cairns Kangaroos 34 (T. Stephen 2, B. Stephen, Doi, Pitt, I. Pau tries; Stephen 5 goals) at Mossman Showgrounds.
Mareeba Gladiators 20 (King 2, Hughes, Ryhs tries; Ryhs, Dodd goals) def Southern Suburbs 18 (Hari, Saunders, Reilly tries; Colahan 3 goals) at Davies Park, Mareeba.
SUNDAY 9 AUGUST
Yarrabah Seahawks 70 (Kynuna 3, Garrett 2, Bann 2, Fourmile, C. Mossman, Webster, A. Schrieber, B. Schrieber, M. Mossman tries; Dabah 4, Bann 2, Kynuna, C. Murgha, Prior goals) def Atherton Roosters 24 (Blackman, Howard, Harauki, Alphine tries; Blackman 4 goals) at Jilara Oval, Yarrabah.
Innisfail Leprechauns – bye.