Heartbreak for Souths, who have now lost five grand finals since their last flag in 2003, was the stuff of dreams for Saints who will likely farewell a few favourites with another title to cap an era of dominance.
Head to head level at 2-2, just who would prevail on Saturday at Cazalys was an even money bet.
But in their ninth straight grand final Saints trolleyed out their best football of the year, surging ahead with five straight goals to eventually prevail in a pulsating contest 14.12 (96) to 13.9 (87).
Rohan Couch won best on ground and rightly so, but it could have gone to multiple men on either team, such was the nature of the game.
Saints kicked with the breeze in the first quarter and jumped to a 30-point lead at the break, able to exploit that scoreboard pressure in the final term despite Souths eating away at the margin and controlling the situation in the third quarter.
A solid breeze meant the momentum swung in each term and after steading in the second half Souths were placed to pounce in the final quarter, trailing by four goals, but it was Saints through Matt Walsh who jagged the first goal to swing the tide.
Souths looked down and out but, spurred on by the brilliant Paul Smith (six goals) found a way back to with four quick goals.
The Cutters then hit the post, with Walsh’s (five goals) steadying goal to open that term proving crucial, as even a Michael Douglas major meant they trailed by nine inside the final few minutes.
Earlier Walsh and Alex Macqueen started brilliantly, picking up loose ball to score with ease before Souths could settle.
Couch finished a brilliant sequence of handballs by drilling a goal from 40 metres and everything was coming up Saints.
Smith stood tall though, snaffling a series of brilliant marks and kicking straight to bring his side back into the game.
When James Dixon launched one from the edge of the centre square they were firmly back in it, trailing by just four points, and against the breeze in the third term played smart to keep themselves close.
But they missed their chance early in the fourth and were left to lament another missed opportunity.
“It was a really good win; I knew our best was good enough but we had to bring it and we did,” Saints player-coach Zac Kelly said.
“We kicked a few timely goals, obviously kicked five really quick ones in the first few minutes and put a score on the board that was a bit daunting and built pressure.
“We played well enough into the breeze and tried to attack, our back six were faultless and we were able to hang on.”
Kelly has won in all three seasons at Cairns Saints, this his first as coach.
“I was nervous, real nervous and it’s been a really taxing few weeks, but the boys were fantastic,” he said.