The QUT Trouts cemented the Universities Rugby League Queensland minor premiership a week early, but it will take a thrilling last round to see who will challenge them in the finals.
Four teams sit within two competition points and will be scrapping for the final three semi spots when the last round is held next Wednesday.
Last night, the Hounds emerged 20-16 victors over ACU at Bishop Park; a win that means they will head into the September 6 semi-finals ranked number one.
A tight affair was locked 8-8 at halftime, but a four-pointer to two-try hero Richie Kay in the 55th minute proved important.
That gave the Trouts an 18-8 lead they never surrendered, thanks to the efforts of man of the match Owen McCarron.
Harry Pondekas scored his second try and Omair Khan went over with five minutes to go to bring ACU within four points, but they ran out of time.
At Nathan the Griffith Dragons tuned up with an eight-try win over the Panthers.
The Dragons led 30-6 at halftime in a victory that moved them into the top four, but they will have to beat the ladder leaders next week to confirm their place in the finals.
Meanwhile at St Lucia, the University of Queensland Hounds showed they were still in premiership contention with a 28-14 victory over the Griffith Logan Dragons.
A long-range try after a break by Dave Ballard sent Chris Hansen over for a 10-4 lead after 20 minutes, but Iosua Afoa hit back for Logan.
The Hounds looked home when Dom Heidke scored off an Adam Walsh short ball, but Redbacks’ terrier Sam Vaughey had other ideas.
Vaughey took an intercept and scampered 90 metres to bring it back to 22-14 with 20 minutes to go.
A Ballard try with eight left on the clock finished proceedings.
Next week, the Gold Coast and one other side will be finished for the season.
The winner of the match between the Redbacks and ACU should make the finals, while the Griffith Dragons (v Trouts) and UQ Hounds (v Panthers) know they must win to ensure they stay alive in the race for the September 13 URLQ grand final at Davies Park.
URLQ Round 9 results
QUT Trouts 20 (Richard Kay 2, Robert McCafferty, Owen McCarron tries; Blake Trace 2 goals) defeated ACU 16 (Harry Pondekas 2, Omair Kha, Mitch Ayling tries) at Bishop Park, Nundah
Griffith Dragons 48 (Tyran Rundmann, Clayton Bohan, Courtney Wanma, Sinaumea Taufao, Connor Bohan, Angel Morrison, Emmanuel Kiddie, Benjamin Parker tries; Parker 8 goals) defeated GRIFFITH Gold Coast Panthers 6 (Maverick Sooalo try; Cody Feltham goal) at Griffith Nathan Campus.
UQ Hounds 28 (Chris Hansen, John Upton, David Ballard, David Todd, Domenic Heidke tries; Peter Bonniface 4 goals) defeated Griffith Logan Redbacks 14 (Sam Vaughey 2, Iosua Afoa tries; Vaughey goal) at UQ Campus, St Lucia.
23 – QUT Trouts (+48)
19 – Griffith Logan Redbacks (+70)
18 – Griffith Dragons (+20), UQ Hounds (-20)
17 – ACU (+64)
13 – Griffith Gold Coast Panthers (-182)