It was a battle of two premiership contenders yearning to make a statement as they near the turn for the home straight.
But it was perhaps two quarters of football in the reserves which served to fire the most ominous warning.
Belconnen forward Chris York made his return from a niggling hamstring problem and is a strong chance of forcing his way into the top grade for the run to the AFL Canberra finals series.
But first comes a stint in the twos to prove - both to himself and the coaching staff - that he is ready to return.
The key forward would be a huge boost to a Belconnen outfit that accounted for the Queanbeyan Tigers in a 12.12 (84) to 9.8 (62) victory at Margaret Donoghoe Oval on Sunday.
"It's awesome to have options. It's a really hard thing at selections to work out what your best team is," Magpies player-coach James Bennett said.
"Over the past few years we haven't had a lot of competition for spots, and the last couple of guys in haven't had a lot of pressure on them.
"This year we have got some guys in the twos who are first grade quality, like Yorky and Djali Bloomfield in there at the moment putting some real pressure on the guys.
"Hopefully Yorky can get up and going, and then we've got another hard decision on our hands. If he's fit and firing, he is one of the best forwards in the comp.
"I'd love to be able to make that decision, to bring him back into the team."
York isn't the only forward missing in Belconnen's senior side. Against Queanbeyan they sent Beau Walker forward because Daniel Jordan - a standout for the Magpies thus far - is sidelined.
Walker, who kicked a lazy five goals, was just one Magpie forced into a different role with Sam Fisher playing a defensive role in the midfield - two stars who "sacrificed themselves for the team".
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"We're just starting to understand we've got roles in the team we need to play, and guys have been buying into that," Bennett said.
"We've been okay for the first half of the year, but I wouldn't say we have played our best footy, and that's the challenge for us, to get rolling."
The Magpies were kicking with a strong breeze in the opening quarter and they made the most of it on the scoreboard.
But to say the breeze laid the platform would be a disservice - it was Belconnen's pressure and intensity which allowed them to fly out of the blocks.
However the Tigers would not be caged on their home turf, battling back for the remainder of the contest before being left to rue missed opportunities, twice hitting the post in their ill-fated bid to launch a comeback.
"Queanbeyan are obviously a pretty emotional and passionate side," Bennett said.
"You know they're not just going to go down without a fight. I was very happy after the game because it was a game in which there were a lot of changes in momentum, and when they had control we were able to take it back."
Belconnen's triumph over another premiership contender comes a day after the Ainslie Tricolours trounced the Eastlake Demons in the other top four showdown of the weekend.
For Bennett it unlocks one simple truth - turn up and put in a solid four quarter effort, then "you're going to be really competitive".
Anything less, and "you're going to get beaten".
AT A GLANCE
AFL Canberra round nine -
TUGGERANONG HAWKS 2.1 6.3 8.7 14.10 (94) bt GUNGAHLIN JETS 2.1 3.3 5.3 6.4 (40)
AINSLIE TRICOLOURS 3.4 7.7 12.10 17.14 (116) bt EASTLAKE DEMONS 0.0 4.4 6.6 8.7 (55)
BELCONNEN MAGPIES 4.3 8.3 11.4 12.12 (84) bt QUEANBEYAN TIGERS 1.1 4.3 8.4 9.8 (62)