Gunnedah produced a steely defensive effort to claim their second top two scalp in as many weeks and save their season on Saturday.
Hot on the heels of rolling second-placed Moree, the Red Devils upset competition leaders Walcha 24-nil to jump into the top four with two rounds remaining.
It was an emphatic performance against the most potent team in the competition. Before Saturday the lowest score anyone had kept the Rams to was 20 (Narrabri in the first game of the second round).
Fifth heading into the clash and knowing that a loss would likely end their finals hopes, the Red Devils won it in the first half.
They must have felt like they were under siege as the Rams peppered their line.
At one stage they would have been camped in the Red Devils' 22 for 15 minutes straight. For 10 of that the home side were a man down with Sanimo Navatu in the bin, but they just kept on repelling the Rams, the pressure they asserted forcing uncharacteristic errors.
Twice they thought they were over only to be called back for a forward pass. Another time Ed Cordingley fumbled the ball with the line open.
The result was a 0-all scoreline at half-time.
After withstanding all that the Rams threw at them in the first half, from the moment Gunnedah fullback James Perrett crossed in the opening minutes of the second half it felt like a different game.
Emboldened by their first half defensive effort, the Red Devils' played with a lot more confidence in attack.
They had a lot more of the play and the territory and were the one's asking the questions.
Their defence was called into action after Perrett's try with the Rams pressing their line for over 20 phases. But, as was the case in the first half they were unyielding and it again eventuated to nothing for the Rams.
Not long after Rams five-eighth Simon Newton was sin-binned and the Red Devils took advantage, Oscar Hunt slicing through. Brad Swain added the extras to double the lead with 18 minutes remaining.
The home side by then well and truly had their tails up and when Navatu crashed over from a penalty quick tap with just over 10 to play it seemed academic.
Red Devils coach Dan Martin was understandably glowing in his appraisal, especially of his sides' defence, rating it their best defensive win of the season.
"They're the best attacking side in the competition and we've held them to nil so I think it just goes to show we're getting our defensive structures right moving forward," he said.
It wasn't just the way they defended their line. They also really cramped the Rams for room.
"We got up in their face and they played from a point of not having clean ball, which they're probably not used to either," Martin said.
At half-time the mood was very positive.
"That was a huge effort from the boys to be 0-all given the amount of ball we had in the first half," he said.
"From there we lifted and we knew they were starting to tire. We could see their big boys were starting to tire so we started to move them around a little bit, which gave us front foot ball."
The win saw them leapfrog Pirates into fourth spot and puts their finals future firmly in their own hands.
"The boys deserve to play finals and it's up to them now to bring it home," Martin said.
For the Rams it wasn't all gloom. Moree's shock 43-33 loss to Scone means they are assured of the minor premiership.
It was some consolation after what was a disappointing performance with the Rams in co-coach Barry Hoy's summation outplayed in the second half.
"First half I thought we had them covered. We had four tries we should have scored that we didn't score," Hoy said.
It was a combination of the Red Devils' determination, and that polish not quite being there.
"They seemed to just get a little bit impatient. They were going through and making good metres, and keeping their ball and retaining it but because it wasn't happening straight away for them they got a little bit impatient," he said.
"And then in the second half we didn't really have a lot of the ball."
"They (Gunnedah) controlled the ball pretty well. They played better than us in the second half. They deserved their win."
Elsewhere Narrabri edged out Pirates 27-26 and Inverell beat Barraba 34-12.