Pirates coach Mat Kelly has often remarked about his side's ability to rally when their backs are against the wall, and the premiers might well have to summon all of that resolve after a costly preliminary final win over Narrabri on Saturday.
The delight of defeating the Blue Boars 31-25 and keeping their aspirations of a second fourth straight Central North premiership alive was tempered by the prospect of being without three of their key players for the decider.
Five-eighth Sam Collins injured his achillies about 25 minutes into the game and had to be carried off, while props Barton Leach and Andrew Collins both picked up their third yellow cards for the season, the repercussions of which is an automatic one game suspension.
They will be big losses if they are ruled out. Pirates' attack has had a lot more surety about it with [Sam] Collins' steering the ship while with Leach and Collins turning the screws up front the Pirates' scrum is again becoming a weapon for them.
Kelly said afterwards they will be exhausting their options to get them on the field.
"We've got to try our best to give them an opportunity to play," he said.
In what was a stop-start contest with six yellow cards handed out - four to Pirates players and two to Narrabri, Pirates showed their intent early with some venomous defence, and looked in control for a lot of the game but were given a couple of scares.
There was moment of dejavu to their second round meeting, which Narrabri won after fighting back from 19-nil down, when from 19-3 down at half-time the Blue Boars made it a six-point game midway through the second half.
Wes Rooney relieved the pressure for Pirates after Jye Paterson found him with a long floating pass following some good pick and go work from the forwards.
Jack Shelton then looked to have sealed it for them when he capitalised on a steamrolling run off the back of the scrum from skipper Conrad Starr, who was just back on the field after a stint in the bin. But there was another sting in the home sides' tail.
Number eight Sam Knight crashed over barely a minute later. Tim Vaughan then gave the Blue Boars crowd reason to hope when he crossed outwide with just over a minute on the clock.
Michael Cain added the extras to again get them within a converted try but the siren sounded seconds later.
Kelly was post-match feeling some mixed emotions.
"It's not the way we wanted to win but we'll take it however it is and show up there (Walcha). It's a two horse race next week," he said.
"We're better when we're backs against the wall so we'll do our best and come out swinging."
He thought it was a really good first half from them, the forwards really muscling up and punching it up with good effect around the ruck.
"I didn't think we did anything extraordinary. I thought it was just tough grinding footy, which sort of played into our hands," Kelly said.
"They were expansive, and they did throw the ball around at the end, and score a late couple, but we were lucky enough to nullify that early and we were good enough to force them into a few errors and take advantage."
Playing into the wind, to go into the break up by 16 was a bonus.
But as has been the case throughout the season they dropped off for a patch in the second half.
"Our tackles crept up a bit high which let them bounce off a bit and our first up tackles weren't good," he said.
"And our urgency lacked there after half-time where we know we have been vulnerable in the past."
He thought Paterson "played his role to a t" when he came on for Collins and also made mention of backrower Nick McCrohan.
"(He) was the best on field by far," Kelly said.
"And I thought our centres were good once we lost our 10."
The Blue Boars also had their injury issues with inside centre Jake Packer coming off with a knee injury the same time as Collins.
Pirates will feature heavily ion grand final day with the women also getting the job done against the Blue Boars to join their second grade and under-19s in the decider.
Phoebe McLoughlin was outstanding scoring a hat-trick as they turned a 17-12 half-time deficit into a 26-17 win.
Second grade will match up against Moree after they defeated Gunnedah 22-16 while the under-19s will face Barraba-Gywdir following their 28-17 win over Narrabri.