It was a weekend of upsets across the South East as the pointy end of the season nears for the hotly-contested A Grade competitions.
In the final round of Brisbane's In Safe Hands competition, previous ladder-leaders Wynnum Manly Seagulls were pipped at the post by the in-form Carina Tigers, losing by a mere two points.
The Valleys Diehards also recorded a shock result, drawing with Pine Rivers, although the split points were enough to nudge them ahead to claim the minor premiership title.
In the crucial second last round of the QTOP Premiership, Burleigh Bears were downed by eighth-placed Currumbin Eagles in a shock loss for the defending premiers, as was the big loss by the Valleys Roosters to West End in the Volunteers Cup.
What wasn't an upset was West Mackay's victory over Carltons, setting up a mouth-watering match-up between the Tigers and Townsville Brothers for the ultimate prize in Mackay this Sunday.
In Safe Hands Cup - Brisbane
If you were told at the start of the weekend that neither Wynnum nor Valleys would win their final game of the season to secure the minor premiership, you'd be met with disbelief... but that was indeed the case on Saturday.
After the In Safe Hands Cup recorded its first draw of the season between Normanby and Carina last weekend, the points were split again as Valleys and Pine Rivers walked off Mathieson Oval with the scoreboard honouring the late great Richie Benaud... 22-22.
A Tai Vaavale double mixed with gritty defence put the Bears in good stead against the dominant Diehards, which would bring much pleasure to coach Adrian Rouse ahead of the first week of the playoffs against West Brisbane.
The Panthers would've been more than impressed to have finally put two good halves together and keep out the talented Brighton Roosters who kept coming at the home side, even ahead at the break 16-14.
Despite doubles to Cameron Cullen and Tyson Beatty, the mud and bloods winger Kyle Van Klaverin had a captain's knock, scoring two tries and leading his side around the park to finish the regular season with a 38-30 win.
It's a tough end to the Chooks' first season, who bow out with healthiest for-and-against percentage of the bottom four teams, probably reflecting on the games that got away from the BRL first-years.
Taking the remaining finals ticket from Brighton was Normanby, who were able to accelerate ahead of Bulimba in the tit-for-tat contest to win 32-22.
Cruise Ten and Sam Gardel helped the Hounds with their two tries each to avoid the wooden spoon and sneak into the six, now up against a red-hot Tigers outfit who will take plenty out of their upset against Wynnum.
The Seagulls were ahead 16-14 at the break, but the Tigers came out firing in the second half, scoring two quick tries before Wynnum Manly went bang, bang, bang to grab the lead back from Carina.
Defence will be high on the agenda for the 'Gulls this week as they let in two tries in quick succession at the back end of the game to cost them the win and the minor premiership, going down 34-32.
Round 10 results
Carina Tigers 34 defeated Wynnum Manly Seagulls 32
Normanby Hounds 32 defeated Bulimba Bulldogs 22
West Brisbane Panthers 38 defeated Brighton Roosters 30
Pine Rivers Bears 22 drew Valleys Diehards 22
Round 10 ladder
|2||Wynnum Manly Seagulls||10||8||0||2||+204||26|
|4||West Brisbane Panthers||10||7||0||3||+121||24|
|5||Pine Rivers Bears||10||3||1||6||-122||17|
QTOP A Grade Premiership - Gold Coast
With one round remaining, Runaway Bay have clinched the QTOP A Grade minor premiership after narrowly downing a resurgent Tugun Seahawks 22-20, the win also earning them the Dack Cup.
A Jacob Garland double helped the Bay keep their undefeated streak alive, with the only blemish on their 2020 regular season campaign being their Round 1 draw against Ormeau.
The Seagulls are fortunate to now serve the bye in the final round, allowing them to freshen up before potentially suiting up against the Seahawks once again, should Tugun get a monumental win against Southport.
The Tigers were able to all but cement a top four finish with their 22-16 win over Mudgeeraba... the only thing that can undo them is losing to the Seahawks by 65 points this Sunday.
Many had the Redbacks penned to be the 'dark horse' of the competition, but last year's grand finalists gave them a reality check as they are now in line to face Burleigh who would be reeling after going down to eighth-placed Currumbin.
It was a gallant and deserving win by the Eagles who fought hard to upset the Bears in their lair at Pizzey.
Defending title-winning coach Matt Foster will be focusing on getting his young side back on task after the loss, up against Mudgeeraba this weekend; and although they are guaranteed a finals berth, the inconsistent month will be of concern for the Bears hierarchy.
Round 9 results
Runaway Bay Seagulls 22 defeated Tugun Seahawks 20
Currumbin Eagles 20 defeated Burleigh Bears 18
Southport Tigers 22 defeated Mudgeeraba Redbacks 16
Ormeau Shearers - Bye
Round 9 ladder
|1||Runaway Bay Seagulls||8||7||1||0||+51||26|
Volunteers Cup - Ipswich
Plenty of jaws would've dropped when West End upset the second-placed Valleys to kick-start the penultimate round of the Volunteers Cup; but to put the result into perspective, the Roosters had opted to rest a number of their star players.
Leading 16-6 at the break, the Bulldogs had a field day in the second 40 with Classie Oti, Harold Mosby, Trent Manihera-Paul and Daniel Wes-Pes all scoring doubles in the match.
The win was particularly important for the Ipswich stalwart, who are now well-placed with a healthy for-and-against in fourth to most probably secure a finals berth regardless of their result against Norths this Saturday.
The Tigers' modest 18-12 win against their Toowoomba cousins was well-deserved after grinding out the win with the winning points in the final eight minutes.
Norths shot out to a 12-0 lead thanks to a Ritchie Lowe double in the opening 20 minutes, but Souths fought back, remaining in the contest by levelling the deficit in the 54th minute, until Ty Humphries weaved his magic to claim victory.
The third-placed Norths are guaranteed to play finals footy, whereas Souths will need more than a miracle to knock off the dominant Goodna Eagles by plenty to be any chance.
It was just another day at the office for the ladder-leaders who wrapped up the minor premiership with a 72-16 shellacking of Gatton at their only home game of the season.
BJ Aufaga-Toomaga was easily the Eagles' best, scoring three tries and taking full advantage of his pack's go-forward as they piled on 15 four-pointers against a hapless Hawks who couldn't be faulted for their effort, but just couldn't match the class of their opponents.
With the top three spots of the final four finalised, a win to West End over Norths will ink the playoffs fixture with first against fourth and second taking on third for the two esteemed spots in this year's big dance.
Round 9 results
West End Bulldogs 44 defeated Valleys Roosters 12
Norths Tigers 18 defeated Souths Tigers 12
Goodna Eagles 72 defeated Gatton Hawks 16
Round 9 ladder
|4||West End Bulldogs||9||3||0||6||+44||6|
Components Only Cup - Mackay A Grade
Townsville Brothers are set to meet West Mackay Tigers for the third time in the last month after the minor premiers defeated the Carltons Devils 36-18 in Saturday's preliminary final.
A Sheldon Bobbert helped the Tigers get back on track after having to qualify for the grand final the hard way when the Brethren inflicted their first loss of the season in the semi-final.
The decider between Townsville Brothers and Wests will kick off at 6pm Sunday at the Mackay Junior Rugby League Grounds.
Preliminary final results
Wests Mackay Tigers 36 defeated Carlton Devils 18
|1||West Mackay Tigers||6||6||0||0||+124||14|
Mackay Airport Cup - Mackay Women
It's set to be an all-Brethren grand final showdown when Mackay Brothers take on Townsville Brothers after the Townsville Leprechaun overpowered the Mackay Magpies 28-16.
Mackay Brothers' quest to defend their Mackay Airport Cup against their Townsville counterparts kicks off at 2pm Sunday at the Mackay Junior Rugby League Grounds.
Preliminary final results
Townsville Brothers 28 defeated Mackay Magpies 16
|4||West Mackay Tigers||5||1||0||4||-124||6|