The script could not have been better written for the Bundaberg Broadcasters A Grade Premiership fixtures finale this weekend after some amazing results in an enthralling penultimate round last Saturday.
It started with Wests Panthers getting out of jail to pip hosts Hervey Bay 34-26 in the curtain-raiser to the Sunshine Coast Falcons v Northern Pride Intrust Super Cup clash at Stafford Park.
In the wash-up to the day, that result was enough for the Panthers to displace Isis Devils from the top three places after the Devils crashed to their second straight loss to the late-season charging Easts Magpies after having defeated Waves Tigers two weeks earlier.
Recovering from a 12-0 deficit midway through the first half, the Magpies flew home 40-24 victors in the first game of the A Grade triple-header at Salter Oval.
Waves then got right back on track after costly back-to-back losses, putting an undermanned Maryborough Brothers to the sword 92-0 with exhilarating wingers Billy Stefaniuk and Sakiusa Tavodi running amok with six and four tries respectively.
Finally, Past Brothers, whose title defence looked on death row after Easts had opened up a four-point lead over them with their triumph earlier in the afternoon, dug deep to keep their premiership hopes alive.
Without two of their best players in suspended duo Aaron Hall and Tyrell Priestley, the Brethren somehow conjured a 28-26 miracle against confirmed minor premiers Wallaroos who had led 18-6 after 27 minutes.
Wests came back from 22-16 down at oranges against a highly spirited and youthful Seagulls, who appeared on the cusp of the upset of the season when they were first to score in the second stanza to extend their lead to 10 points in the 45th minute.
The Panthers were forced to pull out all stops and they did not hit the front until a converted try, scored by livewire fullback Willie Nagas nine minutes from the end, with Tyson Douglas securing the two points with another try four minutes on.
But to retain third spot and a double-chance in the finals, Wests will have to beat a fired up Devils who will have a boisterous home crowd behind them in their own backyard at "The Furnace" (Childers Showgrounds) in the last preliminary match of the rounds.
Isis, who shaped as genuine contenders in their big win over Waves just a fortnight earlier, again missed their biggest gun Kurt Thompson as the Magpies regrouped from the Devils' early onslaught and twice came from behind after Keith Gadd Junior's second try in the 35th minute gave Isis an 18-12 advantage at the break.
But the plucky Easts, who have built quietly but nicely under their first season coach Mick O'Sullivan, showed their hand to take control with four straight tries, before Isis struck again, only for the Magpies to put the icing on the cake with their eighth try – double Isis' number – in the last minute.
Despite the euphoria over their win, Easts will now have to account for Past Brothers in the battle for fifth place and a place in the finals this Saturday.
If the Brethren win by two or more points, they will join the Magpies on 18 points and scrape past them on for-and-against differential.
The Roos, fresh from a superb win over Waves, again looked in control when they led 18-6 following triple BRL A Grade Player of the Year centre Shaun Collins' second try and conversion in the 27th minute.
But Past Brothers fought back to trail just 18-16 after tries to interchange prop Logan Tanzer in the 30th minute and 19-year-old wing sensation Layton Chambers with the halftime siren imminent.
They continued on, with lightning quick fullback Chris Rose breaking through for his second and third tries in the 42nd and 54th minutes, but Roos threw everything at them and got back to within two points with further tries in the 70th and 73rd minutes.
Neither were converted and the premiers hung on by the skin of their teeth.
Roos will finish first regardless of the result of their showdown with Waves tomorrow (this Saturday) in what looms as a likely major semi-final and grand final dress rehearsal, while Brothers will need another robust 80-minute team performance to stop the Magpies' juggernaut and progress to the play-offs.
Waves were ruthless against the Maryborough Brethren, leading 34-0 after the first 40 minutes, then racking up a further unanswered 58 points in a rapid-fire onslaught.
Apart from their wingers, ultra-consistent hooker and inspirational captain Daniel McLennan also cashed in with a double and coach and former NRL, Origin and Test star Antonio Kaufusi joined in the fun with a try and a conversion.
The win secured second place for Waves, but they will want to win this week and restore their reputation and deliver a psychological blow on the eve of the finals.
Reserve Grade, Under 18 and Women's
Easts got to within one point of competition leaders Isis by coming from 14-4 down at halftime to defeat them 26-24, meaning that the Devils must beat Wests this Saturday to claim the minor premiership.
The Panthers will be fresh from a 30-22 victory over the Seagulls when Under 18 duo Corey Gough and Tom Matebau co-starred with twin doubles.
Waves' Reserve shored up a finals berth and put Maryborough Brothers' title defence on life support, shunting them down to sixth position by accounting for them 36-24 on the back of a hattrick to second rower James Brosnan.
The Under 18s played their last round and Wests, who had the bye, are minor premiers, whilst Hervey Bay secured second spot with centre Casey Russell featuring with a three-try haul in an 86-0 white-wash of Past Brothers.
But three tries to Waves fullback Chad King was not enough as they were edged out by Wallaroos 28-24.
Already confirmed Women's minor premiers and defending champions Past Brothers were again too strong for Waves, winning 26-14 with centre Tiara Best a hat-trick hero, with second placed Hervey Bay also going on their winning ways against Isis to the tune of 30-18 with five-eighth Kayla Baldwin doubling up for a brace.
ROUND 15 A GRADE RESULTS
WESTS 34 (Joel Turaga, Hayden Priestley, Tyson Douglas, Matthew Gough, Willie Nagas, Daula Ellison tries; James Prichard 4, Bevan Page goals) defeated HERVEY BAY 26 (Ryan Hockley, Scott Carter-Lowe, Tiko Hooper, Casey Russell, Daniel Brown tries; Ben Hudson 2, Ben Keelty goals)
EASTS 40 (Tyrone Ward, Justyn Porter, Jamie Lowien, Jarrod Johnson, Sam Kuhnel, Robert Wondrock, Danny Moran, Craig Bek tries; Tyrone Ward 4 goals) defeated ISIS 24 (Keith Gadd Jnr 2, Damien Otto, Jake Thompson tries; Nathan Karami 4 goals)
WAVES 92 (Billy Stefaniuk 6, Sakiusa Tavodi 4, Daniel McLennan 2, Antonio Kaufusi, Gage Paulson, Kristian Colasimone, Brendan Pimm tries; Clinton Horne 12, Billy Stefaniuk, Antonio Kaufusi goals) defeated MARYBOROUGH BROTHERS 0
PAST BROTHERS 28 (Chris Rose 3, Layton Chambers, Logan Tanzer tries; Chambers 2, Brendon McKeown 2 goals) defeated WALLAROOS 26 (Shaun Collins 2, Tristan Knight, Luke Waters, Brandon Law tries; Daniel Beatty 3 goals)
LADDER AFTER ROUND 15: Wallaroos 24, Waves 21, Wests 19, Isis 18, Easts 18, Past Brothers 16, Maryborough Brothers 2, Hervey Bay 2
*Vince Habermann is a QRL Correspondent covering the Bundaberg Rugby League.