The Northern Pride all but cemented themselves an Intrust Super Cup finals berth after a gruelling 24-12 win over the valiant QCCS Mackay Cutters at BB Print Stadium.
Described as "one the most physically demanding games of the season", the North Queensland rivals gave it everything in a monumental arm wrestle, with the Cairns-based outfit finding just enough class to emerge victorious over the gallant hosts.
A tense opening 20 minutes saw both teams engage in a thorough feeling-out process, before the scoreless deadlock was finally broken through Jack Campagnolo, slotting a simple penalty goal to give the Pride first points.
Mackay had done well in holding out their more fancied rivals with a stout defensive display, but they finally caved when a perfect pass found the chest of NRL recruit Ethan Lowe, who strolled in untouched to give the Pride a handy eight-point buffer.
Mackay proved they were ready for a fight regardless, a pinpoint grubber kick to the in-goal pounced on under the posts by a flying Yamba Bowie to bring the Cutters right back into the contest in the shadows of halftime.
The see-sawing continued after the break when Pride centre Javid Bowen found himself on an overlap of Mackay's compressed goal-line defence, quick hands from his inside men giving him an easy passage to the try line.
However, the Cutters would continue to show glimpses of their potential, a fantastic short-ball hitting Shane Wright square on the chest, the big man steaming over to level the game at 12-all.
Lowe had proven himself a persistent danger to the Mackay's edge defence for much of the contest, the experienced NRL campaigner breaking away downfield before playing a hand in the lead up to Enari Tuala's try, Mackay's sliding cover defence not enough to stop the Pride's quick ball movement.
The Pride would put the contest to bed when Bowen slipped through a gap off the back of the scrum-base in scoring his second try of the night, a late altercation seeing both teams reduced to 12 men as Campagnolo slotted his second penalty goal in the dying seconds to seal victory.
NORTHERN PRIDE 24 (Javid Bowen 2, Ethan Lowe, Brett Anderson tries; Jack Campagnolo 4 goals) def MACKAY CUTTERS 12 (Yamba Bowie, Shane Wright tries; Kyle Laybutt 2 goals) at BB Print Stadium.