The Queanbeyan Whites had to wait almost an hour to get things started in the John I Dent Cup on Saturday, but when they did they locked in a finals berth to keep their premiership dreams alive.
The clash between the Whites and Wests was delayed when Wests second-grade player Nick Krempf injured his neck and the game had to be called off while waiting for an ambulance to arrive.
Krempf was believed to be cleared of a serious injury and the first-grade game started late, forcing Queanbeyan coach Adam Fahey to make a dash to the airport to catch a flight before the game finished.
His side managed to hold on in a tense and scrappy battle at Campese field, scoring a late try to seal a 18-5 win which will secure a play-off spot with just one round left in the season.
The Whites are fourth on the ladder and three points behind Wests, but more importantly they're six points clear of the fifth-placed Gungahlin Eagles.
The Eagles pushed the defending champion Tuggeranong Vikings to the limit in their battle before falling short 19-12.
The result means the top four are locked in with Royals to finish first followed by the Vikings, Wests and Queanbeyan.
Injured Whites skipper Dan Penca said his team would focus on building momentum for another premiership charge after losing the two of the past three grand finals.
"That was huge for us ... we wanted to come here and put a good performance on given we'll play Wests [in the finals]," Penca said.
"We play Easts next week and they've been a bit of bogey side for us, so we won't take them lightly. But at the same time we can look at the finals."
Queanbeyan led 10-0 after Lewis Bozzato and Jamie Marmonth scored tries, but they couldn't find a killer blow as Wests tried to stay in the match.
They finally got their chance when winger Junior Luteru scored in the corner to cut the gap to five points. But a Josh Wells penalty and Josh Townsend try sealed the result and finals hopes.
The Whites have been bolstered this year by the return of back-rower Soakai Tai, who has spent the past couple of seasons playing for Royals.
The former MacDougall Medal winner as the competition's best player has added punch to Whites' forward pack and looms as a key man for the play-offs.
"Sok's been around for a little while now and he's just a quality player - he's always there or there abouts as the best player in the competition," Penca said.
"He's proven that again against Wests, our forward pack was up against a pretty formidable Wests pack and we held our own."
Wests coach Craig Robberds lamented his team's inability to control possession and field position, but is confident they can take steps forward for a finals re-match against Queanbeyan in two weeks.
"We got taught a bit of lesson about how to play out here [at Queanbeyan]," Robberds said.
"We didn't play smart ... We wanted to win to keep some momentum going but now we've got to finish the regular season off against Gungahlin."
AT A GLANCE
John I Dent Cup: QUEANBEYAN WHITES 18 (L Bozzato, J Marmont, J Townsend tries; J Wells penalty) bt WESTS 5 (J Luteru try); TUGGERANONG VIKINGS 19 bt GUNGAHLIN EAGLES 12; ROYALS 68 bt EASTS 0.
Women's: Tuggeranong ViQueens 81 bt Gungahlin 0.
Second grade: Queanbeyan Whites 47 bt Wests 0, Tuggeranong Vikings 34 bt Gungahlin Eagles 17, Royals 78 bt Easts 5.
Colts: Queanbeyan Whites 60 bt Wests 0, Tuggeranong Vikings 22 bt Gungahlin Eagles 13, Royals 29 bt Easts 21.
First grade: Gungahlin Eagles 26 bt Tuggeranong Vikings 19, Queanbeyan Whites 20 bt Cooma 18, Goulburn 20 bt Uni-Norths Owls 19, Hall 77 bt Wests 0, Royals 20 bt Easts 0.
Second grade: Tuggeranong Vikings 53 bt Gungahlin Eagles 0, Queanbeyan Whites 33 bt Cooma 5, Uni-Norths Owls 28 bt Goulburn 26, Wests 17 bt Hall 7, RMC 31 bt Royals 17.