Townsville Blackhawks have snared a crucial 26-12 win on the Sunshine Coast to give themselves a platform for a run to the finals.
Other than a four-minute period midway through the second half when they allowed the Falcons to score two tries and close within 10 points, the visitors were stout in defence and executed in attack when it mattered.
Sunshine Coast would rue being unable to capitalise on the lion's share of possession and attacking opportunities when the Blackhawks wrestled back the momentum and opened the scoring in the 25th minute through backrower Kulikefu Finefeuiaki.
Brendan Elliot, playing at fullback for the first time this year, sliced through four minutes later and halfback Thomas Duffy added another before half time, the score at 18-0.
They added another four minutes after the break to make it 22-0, but the Falcons fans found their voice when it appeared the comeback was on thanks to their side's two quick tries.
But Townsville held strong, Jodeci Baker-Tiraha pouncing on a Sunshine Coast error to run 90 metres in the 70th minute and put the game to bed.
Match: Falcons v Blackhawks
Round 13 -
Venue: Sunshine Coast Stadium, Sunshine Coast
Townsville Blackhawks coach Aaron Payne said he was happy with the way his side held out the Falcons early on and came out on the right side of the arm wrestle during the first half.
But the true litmus test was always going to be the second stanza, which has been a problem area all season.
"I was proud of our second half. It was gritty. We've had no problems this whole season playing well for the first 40 minutes and something we've been really poor at is our second 40," Payne said.
"We've spoken about it quite a lot and came up with a few things we wanted to do differently to be good in the second half and that was our pure focus. I didn't think we were clinical in the second half but we were gritty, so that's what I'm really, really happy with.
"We've got a really good opportunity now we got six games in a row to build some momentum and the finals is something that everyone wants to play in and we're the same and we understand we're running out of time to stay in touch with the eight.
"Two points tonight was pretty critical and we have some games coming that if we're fair dinkum about playing finals, we need to be winning."
Payne was full of praise for Brendan Elliot, who stood up in the No.1.
"I thought he did a really good job with that considering he haven't played fullback for a while," he said.
"We just saw Brendan's experience back there just how reliable he is, which was the reason that we shifted him there and I thought he did a really good job tonight.
"He's played first grade there before, but it is a bit of a specialist position these days and particularly around your line and I thought he was really good with that.
"He was safe for us at fullback and he came up with a couple of really nice tries."
Blackhawks five-eighth Ben Hampton was just as glowing for Elliot, who he felt was instrumental in ensuring the defence remained largely intact.
"I thought he got our numbers pretty much right on our goal line all night.
"That's another thing that really helps our goal line 'D', when you get our numbers right, and fullbacks do that majority of the time. It definitely helps.
"I think he did a real good job, and young 'Duff' (halfback Thomas Duffy) was good again tonight.
"It's his first year in Hostplus Cup and I think he's really starting to control the game with his kicking and he's starting to find a real voice in the side."
Hampton said despite the promising signs, especially in keeping composed in the second half, there was still a lot of work to do to match it with the top teams and reach for the finals.
"I think if we can weather the storm and stay in the grind in there for a bit, you know, we're a good side," he said.
"It's just when we start having little concentration lapses, that's when we start to find ourselves in a bit of trouble."
The Blackhawks will look to build on their momentum when they host Ipswich Jets at Jack Manski Oval in Round 14.
Match: Seagulls v Capras
Round 13 -
Venue: Piggabeen Sports Complex, Tweed Heads
The Seagulls were emphatic in inflicting the Capras biggest loss of the season. In front of the Piggabeen faithful, winger Kaleb Ngamunu scored a hat-trick and centre Treymain Spry a double, taking a 20-6 half-time lead into a comprehensive 42-18 win.
Match: Bears v Devils
Round 13 -
Venue: UAA Park, Gold Coast
Burleigh was made to earn a hard-fought victory at home to Norths Devils. The Bears shot out of the gates with two tries in the first five minutes to Tony Francis and Sami Sauiluma, but the visitors rallied to make it 22-22 going into the final 10 minutes. A 74th minute try to Pat Politoni ensured Burleigh would walk away with the two points.
Match: Hunters v Clydesdales
Round 13 -
Venue: PNG Football Stadium, Port Moresby
The Hunters put back to back wins together in a comprehensive performance to win 40-4 against Western Clydesdales. PNG had seven different try scorers in the romp, going from 16-0 at half-time to 32-0 just 11 minutes after the break to put the game to bed.
Match: Tigers v Dolphins
Round 13 -
Venue: Totally Workwear Stadium, Brisbane
Redcliffe prevailed late in a thrilling game Brisbane Tigers worthy of a showdown between two top four sides at Totally Workwear Stadium. It was all the Dolphins in the first half as they marched to a 20-0 lead, but the home side ground their way back, eventually closing to within four points going into the last five minutes. But the Dolphins held their nerve with tries to Brenton Baira and Sheldon Pitama in the dying stages sealing a 38-22 victory.
Match: Cutters v WM Seagulls
Round 13 -
Venue: BB Print Stadium, Mackay
Wynnum Manly was ruthless in a 62-0 shutout of Mackay Cutters at BB Print Stadium. Seagulls centre Delouise Hoeter, who finished with a hat-trick, had two tries in the first 15 minutes to get the ball rolling on the way to a 28-0 half time lead. The visitors ran rampant on the resumption, with Oliver Pascoe scoring a second half double in the 11 try romp. The win is Wynnum Manly's fourth in succession.