Intrust Super Cup minor premiers Northern Pride gave up a 22-0 lead to lose 29-28 against Burleigh Bears in their home and away season finale on the Gold Coast on Sunday.
Out of contention for the finals, Burleigh inflicted only the fourth defeat of the year on the Cairns-based team when Khan Ahwang slotted a late field goal.
Jason Roos, Jack Svendsen, Brett Anderson and Shaun Nona all crossed for the Pride, who completed their first 15 sets of possession, before the Bears managed to score a point.
The difference was back to 10 by the break and Burleigh continued their comeback to level up early on in the second half.
Although centre Davin Crampton managed to post his seventh try in as many games with 22 minutes remaining, a try to Daniel Schwass levelled the scores again in the 76th minute before Ahwang gave his teammates a nice end-of-season gift.
“We started really well but we just lacked intensity with about five minutes left in the first half,” coach Jason Demetriou told the Cairns Post.
“It’s very disappointing to lose after we were up 22-0.”
As minor premiers, the Pride have the first weekend of the finals off before hosting the winner of the Wynnum-Manly v Easts major semi-final which will be this weekend’s Channel Nine TV game.
Meanwhile, the Mackay Cutters ended the season in ninth place after losing 26-22 to finals-bound Tweed Seagulls away from home.
Cowboys backs Curtis Rona and Zac Santo were among the scorers for the Cutters who were in front until Trent Richardson crossed for Tweed just before full time.
"We deserved to win that game and everyone at the game thought we had won it except for the incompetent referees," Cutters coach Kim Williams told the Mackay Daily Mercury.
"Never in my time have I experienced such an incompetent display of officiation, which was topped off by their last try being awarded after it had been dropped over the line.
"We're filthy with the result. We feel we were the better team, feel we deserved to win it."
Tweed will play Ipswich in this weekend’s elimination semi.
BURLEIGH BEARS 29 (Henare Wells, Francis Veukiso, Jared Te’o, Daniel Schwass, Khan Ahwang tries; Khan Ahwang 4 goals; Khan Ahwang field goal) def NORTHERN PRIDE 28 (Brett Anderson, Davin Crampton, Shaun Nona, Jason Roos, Jack Svendsen tries; Shaun Nona 4 goals) at Pizzey Park.
TWEED HEADS SEAGULLS 26 (Blake Anderson 2, Jahrome Hughes, James Wood, Trent Richardson tries; Jamal Fogarty 3 goals) def MACKAY CUTTERS 22 (Zac Santo, Nico Mataia, Curtis Rona, Chris Gesch, Karl Davies tries; Brentt Warr goal) at Piggabeen Sports.