Blackhawks now one win from history
Only the Redcliffe Dolphins stand in the way of the Townsville Blackhawks creating their own slice of history after an enthralling Round 24 of the Intrust Super Cup.
Tied on competition points with the PNG Hunters heading into the penultimate round, the Blackhawks overcame a spirited Sunshine Coast Falcons outfit to win 20-13 on Saturday afternoon before hearing later that night that the Cutters had held the Hunters to a 28-all in Mackay.
Hunters star Noel Zeming had a conversion from the sideline in the dying stages of the game to steal a win for the visitors but his attempt was waved away, handing the Blackhawks a one-point buffer at the top of the table heading into the final round.
The top six teams who will contest the finals are now decided with the Blackhawks and Hunters guaranteed a top-two finish and a week off in Week One of the finals, Ipswich, Easts and the Northern Pride guaranteed their finals berth with wins and Wynnum Manly's second bye should see them fresh to launch their premiership push.
Currently in fourth and fifth positions respectively on the table, the Round 25 clash between Wynnum and Easts could serve as a precursor to a Week One finals showdown with the third-placed team (currently Ipswich) to meet the sixth-placed side (currently Northern Pride) in the other elimination final.
If the Blackhawks can account for Redcliffe at home at Jack Manski Oval on Sunday afternoon in the Channel Nine match of the round, they will not only claim the minor premiership but the right to host the major semi-final against the Hunters where the winner will earn direct passage straight through to the grand final at Suncorp Stadium on September 27.
A try to Storm-contracted half Ben Hampton gave the Falcons a 13-6 lead early in the second half on Saturday afternoon before tries to Zac Santo, Rhyse Martin and Kelepi Tanginoa saw the Blackhawks escape with a seven-point win.
The clash between the Cutters and Hunters was tight for the entire contest and the two teams couldn't be split after 80 minutes while a hat-trick to Marmin Barba and a double to Richard Pandia saw the Jets power past Tweed 34-12.
Despite a hat-trick to Marlon Doak the Dolphins went down 32-22 to the Tigers, Souths Logan proved too strong for the Capras 22-12 and the Northern Pride scored six tries in accounting for Norths Devils 26-10 at the remote community of Bamaga 40 kilometres from the tip of Cape York.
For detailed results and the latest Intrust Super Cup ladder click here.