NORTHS breathed fresh life into the Ipswich Rugby League under-18 competition last weekend.
The Tigers hadn't won a game since round five, on May 27, due to byes, forfeits and losing their past two matches.
The team was struggling for numbers at its previous outing, but the return of three players from A grade helped them bounce back to beat Brothers 38-20 and leap into premiership favouritism.
It was Brothers' second loss of the season, with Norths joining them on 20 points at the top of the competition ladder.
"They got one back on us after we beat them in the second round," Brothers coach Tyron Day said. "They played well, we played poorly. But they're definitely the side to beat."
Day denied his team had been sucked into believing the Tigers would be easybeats, due to their recent woes.
If anything, Day knows exactly how they feel, himself relying on players from the Brothers 2 team each week to make up the numbers. "We've had our second side playing a lot," he said.
"Our whole bench is backing up, playing two games every week."
If anything, the loss can be seen as a positive for Day because it has shown Brothers where they need to improve if they are to claim the title.
"We got handed a beating down at Goodna in the middle of the second round," Day said of his team's only other loss this season.
"We were up 20-10 but shut off 15 to 20 minutes early.
"From any loss you take the positives out of it.
"Norths' forwards laid a good platform. Lachlan Roe and those other boys are good footballers.
"It's why they've been playing A grade. Then they got us out wide a bit."
Brothers get the ideal chance to put what they learned from last week into practice when they play third-placed Redbank Plains at Laidley tomorrow.
Day can't draw on much else as Brothers have not played the Bears previously this season.
"We've just got to get back to the game plan and stick to it," Day said. "We found out on Sunday what finals football is all about.
"As soon as teams put you under pressure, you've got to be able to handle it.
"I'm sure Redbank Plains will be the same this weekend."
Brothers (1) 20, Norths 20, Redbank Plains 17, Goodna 17, Springfield 15, West End 12, Swifts 8, Lowood Tarampa 7, Brothers (2) 6.
IRL under-18s, round 13: Tonight - Norths v Springfield at Woogaroo Field, 6.30pm; Goodna v Lowood Tarampa, Woogaroo Field, 8pm.
Tomorrow: Brothers 1 v Redbank Plains at Laidley, 4pm.
Sunday - Swifts v Brothers 2 at Llewellyn Motors Field, 12pm. West End - bye.