Despite a determined effort, Mareeba Gladiators went down to Southern Suburbs 22-26 in their final home game at Alley Park on Saturday.
A trifecta of tries to Steven Tatipata was instrumental in the home side's victory over Mareeba.
In an even contest, Mareeba were the first to open the scoring with a try to Josh Ward.
Soon after, Suburbs struck back when Tatipata went over for his first try of the match and took a slim two-point lead after Richard Joinbee slotted the extras.
In a see-sawing affair, Mareeba crossed for another four-pointer through Mitch Brim and a successful conversion off the boot of Jayden Edwards saw Mareeba take a four-point lead.
With just over 10 minutes left in the half, Tatitpata crashed over for his second try to lock the scores up at 10-10 and a wayward conversion saw nothing separating both sides at the break.
Early in the second half, Tatipata found the line again to complete a hat-trick and Joinbee booted the extras put Suburbs out to a 16-10 lead.
A try to Kurt Jackson and conversion by Edwards ensured the Gladiators were still in the fight as the scores were again locked up at 16-16.
The deadlock between both teams was broken when Minjiluk McInnes chipped in with a try for Suburbs, but a missed conversion only saw the home side ahead by four.
Mareeba were left depleted when two of their players were sent to the sin bin just minutes apart and not surprisingly, Suburbs were able to capitalise with a try to Daniel Tatipata.
When Joinbee slotted the important conversion, Suburbs were able to take a 10-point lead.
Mareeba weren't going away and a late try to Josh Adu and successful conversion by Edwards put them back within reach by four.
As the clock counted down, Mareeba threatened to cause an upset, but Suburbs were resolute and hung on for the narrow victory.
New Mareeba coach Trent Barnard - who played his juniors and seniors for Ivanhoes - said in his first year with the club everyone, including the players, had made him feel welcome and right at home.
Barnard, who is captain of the side, only recently took over the coaching reins after Terry Aquilina stepped down from the role. He will continue until the end of the season and into 2020.
The coach said it was a tight contest with not much separating both sides and the result could have gone either way.
"It just came down to basis things like dropping the ball down coming out of our own end after scoring points," Barnard said.
There were a few players who pulled out at the last minute, which already put us on the back foot.
He gave full credit to all the forwards in the middle, especially Kurt Jackson and Caleb Dally who "always put in a huge effort".
Centre Mitch Brim and hooker Markus Dotoi both sustained ankle injuries in the game.
Barnard said he felt the style and quality of footy had changed a lot over the past few years and what has cost them all season was basic errors.
"We seem to score points, but don't get back to our kick and then make simple errors in our own end," Barnard said.
He said once they start getting the little things right, then the wins will come.
Throughout the season, Mareeba have been competitive in most games except for Yarrabah and Mossman-Port Douglas who are the front runners.
The Gladiators had a slow start to the year as they struggled to find players, but Barnard said that now they had finally got a squad with some structure, things were building nicely for next season.
"The side hasn't had much depth but this is something we will work on for next season," Barnard said.
"The positives we can take from this season is the boys always stick together, everyone is on the same page and all want to play well for Mareeba and the club."
This weekend, Mareeba hope to have most of their players back when they face Tully in their final home game for the season.
The club are hoping there will be a big crowd and they can get the win before their last game of the season against Edmonton Storm at Petersen Park.
Round 18 Results
Yarrabah 28 defeated Mossman-Port Douglas 22
Southern Suburbs 26 defeated Mareeba 22
Cairns Brothers 52 defeated Tully 6
Innisfail 24 defeated Atherton 18
Kangaroos 62 defeated Edmonton 12
Ladder: Mossman-Port Douglas 24, Yarrabah 24, Innisfail 23, Cairns Brothers 20, Atherton 20, Southern Suburbs 18, Kangaroos 15, Ivanhoes 13, Mareeba 10, Edmonton 10, Tully 1
Yarrabah 36 defeated Mossman-Port Douglas 30
Cairns Brothers 22 defeated Tully 6
Southern Suburbs 37 defeated Mareeba 16
Atherton 22 defeated Innisfail 16
Edmonton 48 defeated Kangaroos 18
Ladder: Yarrabah 22, Atherton 21, Southern Suburbs 20, Innisfail 19, Mossman-Port Douglas 18, Cairns Brothers 18, Tully 16, Mareeba 16, Kangaroos 13, Edmonton 12, Ivanhoes 3
Yarrabah won on forfeit by Mossman-Port Douglas
Cairns Brothers won on forfeit by Tully
Southern Suburbs won on forfeit by Mareeba
Innisfail 20 defeated Atherton 18
Edmonton won on forfeit by Kangaroos
Ladder: Ivanhoes 31, Edmonton 26, Cairns Brothers 26, Innisfail 23, Atherton 20, Yarrabah 16, Kangaroos 14, Southern Suburbs 12, Mareeba 8, Tully, Mossman-Port Douglas 1
Round 19 A Grade Fixtures
Saturday, August 17
Edmonton v Mossman-Port Douglas at Petersen Park, Edmonton
Mareeba v Tully at Davies Park, Mareeba
Innisfail v Southern Suburbs at Callendar Park, Innisfail
Sunday, August 18
Yarrabah v Atherton at Jilara Oval, Yarrabah
Cairns Brothers v Ivanhoes at Stan Williams Park, Cairns