Rugby League Mackay and District entered Round 5 of its shortened competition over the weekend, as seven teams - five from Mackay and two from Townsville - began to stake their claims for a spot in this year's finals.
Souths Sharks lifted themselves up into fourth place on the Components Only A Grade ladder after a convincing 40-10 win over the third-placed Mackay Brothers at Shark Park, while Townsville Brothers continued their unbeaten run with a 70-10 victory over the winless Norths Devils in an all-Townsville affair at Jack Manski Oval.
Meanwhile, the competition leaders Wests Tigers maintained their good form when they faced the Magpies at home in blustery conditions at Tiger Park in Walkerston.
The Magpies opened the scoring with a gifted two points off the back of consecutive penalties; but the hosts found a response on their next attacking set with Nev Grant powering his way over in the right edge to give Wests a 4-2 lead.
Wests struck first in the second half with a surging run down the right edge, but a missed conversion kept the door ajar with the score 8-2.
Magpies then crucially strike back, with fast footwork and a show-and-go from five-eighth Bayley Gill bringing the visitors level with half an hour remaining.
The Tigers then regained ascendancy of the contest in the final quarter of the game as Harold Snell steamed back on the angle and latched onto a short ball from his inside man to power over and score.
Kimi Hemodo sealed the gritty 16-8 victory for the Wests Tigers, wrapping around the back of his inside man to snatch an offload and score on the right flank in a slick attacking move.
Tigers coach Craig Menkins thought it was their bravest performance of the year.
“We only had 30 per cent of the ball in the first half against a very committed Magpies side," Menkins said post-match.
"They came to play and they stuck it up us.
"To recover from the amount of possession against us in the first half and still defend well is a great performance.
“It’s a really big confidence boost. Our toughness in defence held us in good stead and I think that will be our building platform for the next few weeks.”
The undefeated Tigers face Mackay Brothers in Round 6 this Saturday.