The Northern Pride have given their sternest signal as genuine premiership contenders of 2018, beating a first-placed Townsville outfit that boasted a former Test player in its ranks.
In the fourth Intrust Super Cup game ever played at Atherton, 80km south-west of the Pride's base in Carins, the Pride emerged 13-10 winners over the Blackhawks.
The contest was expected to be a tight tussle, with both teams on winning streaks and boasting bolstered squads.
While the Blackhawks had the biggest name in State of Origin centre Justin O'Neill, the Pride side was peppered with NRL experience, including 2015 Cowboys grand final member Ethan Lowe.
On the scoreboard it was names that many say are the future of the North Queensland club which did the damage for the Pride, now equal with Townsville with 10 wins this season.
Speedster Gideon Gela-Mosby scored a double as the Pride fought back from 0-6 behind, while half Jake Clifford potted two penalty goals and a field goal to round out the northerners' total.
For Gela-Mosby it marked seven tries from his last five games, following a disrupted start to the season through suspension.
The loss for Townsville, who notched tries via Rod Griffin and Jonathon Reuben, means they could potentially be leapfrogged by Burleigh this afternoon, pending the Gold Coast derby against Tweed Heads.
The Pride have now won five successive matches to turn around an inconsistent start to the season.
The Cairns region will remain in rugby league mode today as the South Sydney Rabbitohs take on the North Queensland Cowboys at Barlow Park.
Next Saturday the Pride are away at Suzuki Stadium Langlands Park against Easts at 4pm, while an hour later at 5pm the Blackhawks host the Sunshine Coast at Jack Manski Oval.
NORTHERN PRIDE 13 (Gideon Gela-Mosby 2 tries; Jake Clifford 2 goals; Jake Clifford field goal) def TOWNSVILLE BLACKHAWKS 10 (Rod Griffin, Jonathon Reuben tries; Levi Dodd goal) at Atherton Stadium.