Ash Brazill's will and athleticism trumped a lionhearted performance from Kim Ravaillion as Collingwood Magpies held off Queensland Firebirds for a thrilling 68-65 victory at Launceston's Silverdome.
With West Coast Fever applying enormous pressure on both top-four contenders, the heat was on the two teams to produce a statement of their finals intentions on Saturday.
Ravaillion was sensational for the Firebirds with 43 feeds and just four turnovers but just could not do enough in the closing minutes to haul her team across the line.
Collingwood's Brazill, switched from wing defence to centre for the last quarter, made every big moment her own to help her side keep intact its unbeaten record at the venue.
Brazill's inspired effort, including one desperate attempt to keep the ball from crossing the baseline, made the difference in an even contest.
Queensland led by three goals early in the last quarter but Brazill's determination, and sweet shooting from player of the match Shimona Nelson (53/54) helped the Magpies hang on.
Magpies coach Nicole Richardson lauded the players for their efforts in stopping a genuine top-four contender.
"I was super proud that they responded to the challenge," she said.
"It's probably one of the best games I've been involved with."
Firebirds shooters Romelda Aiken (34 goals) and Gretel Bueta (18) could not land enough blows at any stage to rattle Collingwood.
Richardson would have been delighted with the start from her attack end which was expertly coordinated by goal attack Gabby Sinclair, who finished with 11 goals, including four from two-point range.
Even with Kelsey Browne's impact blunted by Firebirds captain Gabi Simpson, Sinclair and centre Molly Jovic plotted various pathways into the shooting circle.
That tension in what was a gripping mid-court battle was not a huge shock. What was surprising was the dearth of positional changes.
Despite this becoming an era of rolling substitutes and impact players, not one rotation was made by either coach until the second half.
Firebirds coach Megan Anderson made a string of switches in the third term in a bid to wrestle back momentum from a Magpies outfit that embodied steadiness.
Queensland's big hope was Tippah Dwan whose drives and long range shooting have a tendency to splinter defences.
Dwan sank three super shots for the quarter, but her influence failed to have a long-term impact on Collingwood's defence.
Q1: Magpies 17 v Firebirds 15
Q2: Magpies 16 v Firebirds 18
Q3: Magpies 19 v Firebirds 16
Q4: Magpies 16 v Firebirds 16
Player of the Match: Shimona Nelson (Collingwood Magpies)
Magpies Shooting Statistics:
Shimona Nelson: 53/54 - 98%, G1: 53/54, Total Points: 53
Gabby Sinclair: 11/14 - 79%, G1: 7/8, G2: 4/6, Total Points: 15
Firebirds Shooting Statistics:
Romelda Aiken: 34/38 - 89%, G1: 33/37, G2: 1/1, Total Points: 35
Gretel Bueta: 18/24 - 75%, G1: 18/22, G2: 0/2, Total Points: 18
Tippah Dwan: 8/12 - 67%, G1: 4/6, G2: 4/6, Total Points: 12
Magpies Starting Seven: GS - Shimona Nelson, GA - Gabby Sinclair, WA - Kelsey Browne, C - Molly Jovic, W - Ashleigh Brazill, GD - Jodi Ann Ward, GK - Gena Mentor (C)
Firebirds Starting Seven: GS - Romelda Aiken, GA - Gretel Bueta, WA - Lara Dunkley, C - Kimberley Ravaillion, WD - Gabrielle Simpson (C), GD - Kimberley Jenner, GK - Tara Hinchliffe