The Penrith Panthers took the trip north to Suncorp Stadium on Friday night in an attempt to solidify their spot in the top eight.
The Broncos were unlikely to be an easy target for the mountain men, even taking their inconsistency into consideration.
Brisbane sat eighth on the ladder leading into the match, just one point behind the visitors. The loser would face a tricky path to finals football while the winner would take a huge step towards September action.
Befitting the importance and significance of the contest, it was a cagey affair in the opening half.
A 16th minute try to Kotoni Staggs, the subsequent conversion and a penalty goal to Jamayne Isaako in the 32nd minute, built an 8-0 lead for the Broncos with half-time looming.
Against the flow, the Panthers found the line with just three minutes remaining and pulled within two points at 6-8, as the sides headed into the sheds.
Frankly, the Panthers hardly fired a shot in the first 40 minutes and when Isaako scored two tries early in the second half to send the Broncos to a seemingly secure 18-6 lead after 55 minutes, the contest appeared settled.
Brian To’o was to throw the proverbial spanner in the works with a 57th minute try to send the match into a frantic final 20 with the score favouring the home side 18-12.
The Panthers threw everything at the Broncos with the game moving towards a climactic finish, yet the home side held firm. After a series of hairy moments where the Panthers put their season on the line, Payne Haas burst through the Penrith defensive line and ran 40 metres to score the match winning try for the home side.
It was a stunning effort and one of the best tries I have seen all season. It put the Broncos well and truly home with just a handful of minutes remaining on the clock.
The final 24-12 result saw the Broncos take a huge step forward and they now appear close to locking up a place in the top eight and playing finals’ football.
For the Panthers, things have well and truly fallen apart with three losses from their last four.
Their golden run through June/July seemed to have them in a perfect position to make a run at the premiership, yet the Sharks, Tigers and Warriors are now eyeing a spot, indeed their spot, in the top eight.
In early Friday night action the Eels flew to the Gold Coast to tackle the Titans in front of a disappointing home crowd.
The limited number of bums on seats was understandable considering the season that the Gold Coast has suffered; with just four wins for the year and a firm grip on the wooden spoon, 2019 has been an unmitigated disaster.
What played out was to script, as the sixth placed Eels put the Titans away 36-12 and enhanced their top four claims with three rounds of home-and-away play remaining in the season.
Resplendent in pink, the Titans were awful and the Eels put them to the sword with the aplomb expected of a team sitting well inside the top eight.
In spite of some stubborn first half Titan resistance that saw the Eels head to the sheds with a tenuous 12-6 lead at the break, the floodgates were to open soon after.
First half tries to Daniel Alvaro and Manu Ma’u were parlayed in the second period with a four pointer to Shaun Lane and a double to Waqa Blake.
The perfect five from five goal kicking of Mitchell Moses established a comfortable 30-6 lead with 19 minutes remaining on the clock.
A 71st minute try to Marata Niukore in which he tore through the centre of the Titans defence, saw Moses convert yet again and the true tragedy of the Titans’ season come further into focus.
At 36-6, the fight was over and the referee should really have called a halt to proceedings.
To their credit, the Titans scored late through Jesse Arthars. It was little consolation, as the Eels secured the victory and averted their eyes to the top four and a potential home semi-final at Bankwest Stadium in the first week of the NRL finals.