THE Mackay Cutters side-stepped the emotion to beat the Sunshine Coast Falcons, playing their first game without teammate James Ackerman on Saturday.
Ackerman died after being injured in a tackle two weeks ago.
Cutters coach Kim Williams said both sides had participated in a minute's applause before "getting on with the game" dedicated to Ackerman.
The Falcons made the most of the emotion to jump out to an early lead but the Cutters responded, running away with the game after the break to win 32-14.
"Sunny Coast started well, they scored first," Williams said.
"It took us a while to get on top of them, they really had the pressure on early.
"They scored again right on half-time so it was pretty well even, we were just up 16-14 at the break."
Williams said the defensive effort from his forwards, particularly front-rower Joss Boynton had set up the victory.
"Joss was probably our best front-rower," Williams said. "He had a couple of really good runs himself and was really aggressive in defence."
Former North Queensland Cowboys forward Steve Rapira also impressed in his first game of the season.
Rapira played 30 minutes in his first game back after injuring his Achilles tendon in December.
Hooker Josh Chudleigh also played well, crossing for a try with 10 minutes to go to seal the win.
Despite claiming the premiership points Williams said the Cutters had room for improvement.
"Our kicking game improved in the second half but that's something we still need to work on," he said. "We had a few wasted opportunities with poor kicks."
The Mackay Cutters have a bye next week, before meeting Burleigh at Mackay Stadium on July 18.
Tries: Josh Chudleigh, Brad Lupi, Justin Tavae, Jordan Pereira.
Two tries: Buchanan Rawhiti
Four goals: Liam Taylor