Despite scoring five tries to the home side’s four, the Townsville & Districts Mendi Blackhawks won for the second week in a row by the narrowest of margins with a 22-20 victory over Northern Pride.
With only one successful conversion from five attempts, the visitors could well have been further in front, but it came down to the final seconds in a thrilling contest at Barlow Park.
In what must have felt like deja vu for the Mendi Blackhawks, their opposition skipped away to a 10-point lead in the opening stages in similar fashion to the Cutters the week prior with Greg Miglio getting a double.
It took the Blackhawks 12 minutes to get into the match when Delouise Hoeter crossed for the first try in the corner.
The Blackhawks continued their attacking raid as Moses Pangai scored the next try in the opposite corner.
Soon after, the visitors were forced to reshuffle their line-up after Michael Parker-Walshe left the field injured.
Rhyse Martin was next to score after running a sharp line after a Matt Bowen break to take the score to 12-10 to the Mendi Blackhawks with fifteen minutes left to play in the first half.
Pangai’s confidence was high as he attempted a kick on the fifth, only for the ball to go out on the full.
However, he made up for his mistake a few sets later with a spectacular chip and chase that saw the Blackhawks spread the ball wide resulting in a fantastic try to Kyle Laybutt.
The Pride hit back in the dying stages of the first half to take the halftime score to 16-14.
The second half began in much better fashion for Townsville after Laybutt scooped up his own kick near the try line to hand Anthony Mitchell an easy four-pointer just eight minutes into the half.
The points dried up following Mitchell’s early second half effort, with the Blackhawks dominating long stretches of the game with their attack, but unable to deliver the killer blow against a fired up Pride side.
Spurred on by a vocal home crowd, the Pride never gave up, with a try to Jack Svendsen in the 74th minute setting up a grandstand finish in the northern derby.
It came down to the final play of the match with the Pride heading full steam for the line and Townsville desperate in defence.
Much to the crowd’s dismay, a forward pass denied the Pride a chance at victory.
The forwards for both sides were brilliant with powerhouse Lorenzo Maafu leading the way for the Mendi Blackhawks in his milestone 100th Intrust Super Cup match.
Maafu was equally strong in attack and defence throughout the match gaining valuable metres for his side and putting in some hard hitting defence where it counted.
Corey Jensen, Andrew Niemoeller and Brendan Santi were also outstanding for the Blackhawks measuring up to the much larger opposition of the Pride.
Laybutt had a strong return to the game after a long layoff with a broken wrist and both Bowen and Jahrome Hughes handled the mid-game reshuffle with class following Parker-Walshe’s injury.
It is the third consecutive win for the Blackhawks kicking their finals campaign into well and truly into gear.
They remain in fourth position on the Intrust Super Cup ladder heading into a huge home game against a red-hot PNG Hunters this weekend.
TOWNSVILLE BLACKHAWKS 22 (Delouise Hoeter, Moses Pangai, Rhyse Martin, Kyle Laybutt, Anthony Mitchell tries; Matt Bowen goal) def NORTHERN PRIDE 20 (Greg Miglio 2, Justin Castellaro, Jack Svendsen tries; Khan Ahwang 2 goals) at Barlow Park.