Jonus Pearson suffered a suspected broken wrist as Redcliffe wrestled back top spot in the Intrust Super Cup with a thrilling 20-18 win over Townsville.
Pearson left the field in the 19th minute and was replaced by Aaron Whitchurch in an early blow, as Townsville led 8-4 via early tries to Zach Santo and Jonathon Reuben.
If the injury is as serious as first feared by the Dolphins coaching staff, it will be a big blow after Pearson's 14 tries in Dolphins colours this year, making him one of the most prolific players in the league.
It was another Brisbane Broncos-contracted player who was left to secure the game for the Dolphins, as Kotoni Staggs added a conversion in the 79th minute to break an 18-all deadlock.
Staggs' effort was straight in front of the sticks, after Jeremy Hawkins darted over to take the Dolphins from 18-14 behind to a winning position.
Hawkins, who was only a fortnight ago relegated to the Brisbane Rugby League because of indifferent form, posted the decisive try to mark his son's first birthday.
The win has ramifications for the table, with Townsville dropping to second after two losses in a row, having been defeated 27-24 by the Norths Devils a week earlier.
Next week both teams have tough encounters.
Townsville is away to fellow premiership contender Burleigh on Saturday afternoon, while the Dolphins host the Northern Pride the same evening.
REDCLIFFE DOLPHINS 20 (Trai Fuller, Aaron Whitchurch, Jamil Hopoate, Jeremy Hawkins tries; Kotoni Staggs 2 goals) def TOWNSVILLE 18 (Zach Santo, Jonathon Reuben, Kalifa Faifai-Loa, Zach Dockar-Clay tries; Kalifa Faifai-Loa goal) at Jack Manski Oval.