ONE team sits equal top of the Ipswich Rugby League ladder, the other props up the bottom.
But there was far less of a gulf between Norths and Swifts at Keith Sternberg Oval yesterday.
In the end it was the defending champion Tigers who moved to joined Goodna and Brothers at the head of the competition, following their 16-10 win over the Bluebirds.
Swifts have just two wins to their name this season and will view this as one that got away.
The Bluebirds had enough chances to win but, like their opposition, struggled to mount sustained pressure to turn into points.
The Tigers started the second half better and their first 15 minutes, which included a try to big prop Tuuta Manu, was the only time they managed to control the ball and it won them the game.
The Tigers will happily take the win as they continue to struggle with injuries.
With fullback Andrew Campbell out for the season with a knee injury it was Beau Baker filling in at the back, with second game rookie Matthew Bettiens on the left wing.
It was Bettiens who got Norths on the ball in the first half with his debut try in the top grade, following some clever lead up work by lock Chris Scanlan and halfback Steven West.
"I loved it," said the 17-year-old apprentice fitter and turner from Brassall.
"It's a big step up from under 19s.
"Faster pace and bigger contact."
Bettiens rated it tougher than the previous week's loss to Goodna, which tells you Swifts are doing something right, despite their position on the ladder.
For a period in each half the Bluebirds were in the ascendency but couldn't convert into points.
They were overly reliant on lock Albi Talipeau and former Ipswich Jets prop Ray Schuster.
The pair combined to bring Swifts back into the match midway through the second half when Schuster chased a Talipeau grubber to score.
Norths also showed courage to hang on given their injury count and the fact their bench was reduced to just two in the second half with Scanlan (face cut) and Kane Fuller (elbow injury) taken from the field.
"The best thing about the game was that we held on and didn't let them in at the end," Bettiens said.
"We showed good line speed to shut their big boys down."
For Norths the key is to find some fluency while they await the return of injured troops such as Josh Roberts and Brendon Marshall.
For Bettiens the goals are much simpler.
"The goal is to keep playing good footy," he said.
"Hopefully I can get a few more games in A grade."
State of Play
- A grade results: Norths 16 (Matthew Bettiens, Tuuta Manu; Jacob Stephan tries; Steven West 2 goals) def Swifts 10 (Wiki Hemopo, Ray Schuster tries; Andrew Taylor goal); Fassifern 36 def Goodna 24; West End 28 def Brothers 16.
- Ladder: Brothers 8, Norths 8, Goodna 8, West End 6, Fassfern 4, Swifts 4.