Brisbane City and Canberra Vikings will play a sudden-death, final-round showdown for a spot in the NRC playoffs next week after City snatched a dramatic one-point win over NSW Country.
Trailing the Eagles for most of the game, and with less than ten minutes left, Brisbane City came from behind to score and held on to claim a 28-27 in Camden.
At four tries apiece, the mistake-free goal-kicking of Quade Cooper proved telling in the final result.
The win ensured City held onto fifth spot on the ladder, with 17 points. Canberra are one point ahead in fourth but in perfect scripting, the two teams meet in the last round next on City's home turf, at Easts' David Wilson Field in Brisbane.
“To an extent we’re disappointed we weren’t able to take more of the opportunities today, but all we needed to do was win and we did that, so now we move forward,” coach Mick Heenan told the Reds website.
“We were creating opportunities from the start of the game, but we only managed to take a small percentage of them and thankfully when it mattered we were able to convert.
“Next week is affectively a semi-final for us. You know it’s great to still be alive in the competition.
“The last couple of weeks we’ve had contrasting games – I thought we controlled the game very well last week against Queensland Country, but this week we just had to find a way. Even when we were down 13 points with 10-to-go we toughed it out and found a way to win, so we’ll take some confidence out of that."
The visitors scored first when winger Emori Waqavulagi crashed over courtesy of a last-pass from prop JP Smith, but NSW Country responded soon after when they counter-attacked from a turnover near their own line.
Winger Jaline Graham's speed and a lovely pass in traffic set Alex Newsome on his way to the line for a 90-metre effort.
Newsome was binned for a cynical foul but it didn't stop Country from scoring again, this time courtesy Graham finishing off sustained pressure in the right corner.
Country's lead didn't last long, though, when Tautalatasi Tasi burst through the line from a Quade Cooper switch, and Matt Gordon strolled over under the posts.
City held a 14-10 lead at halftime but NSW Country emerged with the better intent and after Jed Holloway almost scored, Jack Grant crossed after cleaning up a sloppy line out.
The Eagles' next try came after a guru-like read of a bouncing ball from Sam Figg, when Cooper's short kickoff went back over the halfway line and the NSW flanker was waiting for it.
He sprinted away, offloaded and a few phases later Matt Gibbon scored.
At 27-14, it looked like the hosts were heading towards their second win of the season but Brisbane kept fighting.
A clean break from Cooper saw the visitors in behind the line, and Pat Morrey scored a try from short range in the 68th minute to cut the deficit to six.
Sam Wallis scored the game-winning try five minutes later try when City went back on the attack, and his big right foot step was enough to see him score under the sticks.
Cooper's easy conversion was made and the Eagles couldn't find their way down to a position to score any more points.
Tries: Waqavulagi, Gordon, Morrey, Wallis
Conversions: Cooper (4)
NSW COUNTRY EAGLES 27
Tries: Newsome, Graham, Grant, Gibbon
Conversions: Saifoloi (2)
Penalties: Saifoloi (1)
NSW Country to face Brisbane City
1. Harry Johnson-Holmes
2. Tom Horton
3. Paddy Ryan
4. Sam Thomson
5. Emmanuel Meafou
6. Sam Figg
7. Will Miller
8. Jed Holloway
9. Jack Grant
10. Rohan Saifoloi
11. Alex Gibbon
12. Apo Latunipulu
13. Seb Wileman
14. Jaline Graham
15. Alex Newsome
16. Mahe Vailanu
17. Matt Gibbon
18. Robert Lagudi
19. Patrick Tafa
20. Rory Suttor
21. William McDonnell
22. Dwet Roos
23. Denny Godinet
Brisbane City to face Country
1. JP. Smith – Reds/GPS
2. Moli Sooaemalelagi – Sunnybank
3. Feao Fotuaika - Souths
4. Zach Moimoi – Bond University
5. Nathan Den Hoedt - Sunnybank
6. Adam Korczyk – Reds/University of Queensland ©
7. Matt Gicquel – GPS
8. Sam Wallis – University of Queensland
9. Moses Sorovi – Wests/Reds
10. Quade Cooper – Reds/Souths
11. Emori Waqavulagi – Souths
12. Matt Gordon – Easts
13. Tautalatasi Tasi – Souths
14. Con Foley – University of Queensland
15. Karmichael Hunt – Reds/Souths
16. David Paice – Souths (Potential NRC/Brisbane City debut)
17. Misioka Timotea – Wests
18. Josh Nasser – University of Queensland
19. Tuaina Tualima – Sunnybank
20. Pat Morrey – University of Queensland
21. Scott Gale – University of Queensland
22. James Dalgleish – University of Queensland
23. Jaye Thompson – GPS