Intrust Super Cup Round 22 preview
Mackay's finals hopes will go on the line in Round 22 of the Intrust Super Cup when they host defending premiers Northern Pride on Saturday night.
The seventh-placed Cutters can virtually wave goodbye to their season if they fail to claim the two points against the sixth-placed Pride at Stadium Mackay.
The 2013 champions currently sit on 24 competition points and remain one win behind the Pride with only four rounds remaining until the finals.
After thumping Burleigh by 42 points three weeks ago, the Cutters have lost two in a row and as a result have dropped out of the top six for the first time since Round 3.
The Pride's 16-4 victory over Burleigh last weekend elevated them into a finals spot for the first time this season, which in turn altered the ISC top six for the first time in 12 rounds.
A favourable run home against the eighth-placed Redcliffe Dolphins (away), 13th-placed Norths Devils (away) and cellar dwellers Central Capras (home) can help the Pride march even further up the ladder with Easts Tigers (fifth) also sitting on 26 competition points.
The Cutters also have a game against Norths (away) and the 12th-placed Souths Logan Magpies (away) to come during their run towards the finals, but will face a tough test when they host the PNG Hunters in Round 24.
Mackay edged the Pride 12-10 when they met at Barlow Park in Cairns earlier this season and they'll need a similar result in order to maintain their finals aspirations.
Another Round 22 blockbuster will see the Ipswich Jets (third) hosting second-placed PNG on Saturday afternoon, where a win for the Hunters would assure them of a top-two spot.
Ipswich are fresh from a bye but will be without two of its front-line forwards with captain Keiron Lander (broken thumb) and Sam Martin (suspended) both unavailable.
The Jets have won three out of their past five games and face a red-hot Hunters side who are undefeated in 13 matches.
The Hunters grounded the Jets 40-28 when they last met in Round 13 and have been boosted by the inclusion of point-scoring whiz Noel Zeming, who is free to play after taking an early plea to a dangerous throw charge.
The Jets welcome back Carlin Anderson from a calf injury but will be without Broncos prop Joe Ofahengaue who is on NRL duty.
Veteran centre Chris Walker requires two points to reach 300 ISC points, while Liam Capewell will play his 50th game for the Jets.
Elsewhere around the grounds, the improving Tweed Heads Seagulls will be looking to knock over another top-six opponent when they take on competition leaders Townsville on Saturday afternoon; Burleigh Bears host fourth-placed Wynnum Manly with Seagulls' half Matt Seamark poised to play his 100th ISC game and Redcliffe host Souths Logan in a match the Dolphins must win in order to keep their faint finals hopes alive.
The Sunshine Coast Falcons and CQ Capras will feature in Channel Nine's televised match with coverage beginning from 1.30pm on Sunday, while the Easts Tigers and Norths Devils have the bye.