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WESTS Panthers broke a seven-year drought in the Bundaberg Broadcasters A Grade Premiership with last years whipping boys and wooden spooners completing a last to first revival with a tough and well executed 30-12 victory over three times defending champions and minor premiers Brothers at Salter Oval on Sunday.

The upset win was master-minded by their young captain/coach, hooker and Bundaberg A Grade Player of the Year Brent Kuskey, who was an integral part of their previous premiership of 2006 and returned home this season after spending the previous five years with Brothers, helping them to four titles from five grand final appearances, including captaining them to glory 12 months ago.

Kuskey played alongside his elder brother and five-eighth Aaron, who scored a first-half try, and younger brother Ben, who made his mark off the bench.

They were part of a major club recruitment drive, which also brought a number of former Wests stars back to their roots and some newcomers to Pantherland.

One of the players whom Kuskey took with him from Brothers was quiet achieving lightweight lock Boe Zimmerlie, who was a surprise winner of the Les Somerville Medal for Best and Fairest in the Grand Final, with a signature busy all-round performance and the try which drove a dagger into his former clubs hearts, racing through from the kick restart after Brothers first try in the 52nd minute to pluck the ball out of the air after it was allowed to bounce and charging through to gleefully score untouched, with the conversion reestablishing their 16-point buffer at 22-6.

From there, there was no coming back for the Brethren against a Panthers side which rallied magnificently in defence.

Brothers had started well but were unable to convert their chances, but Wests struck at crucial times with bulky winger Joel Turaga forcing his way over in the 11th minute, Aaron Kuskey grounding the ball from a kick-chase in the 20th minute and halfback Joel Fagan turning on a superb individual try five minutes before the break.

Brothers rallied in the second half but after being floored by Zimmerlies counter-punch, they lost dynamic second rower Tom Quill to injury six minutes later, then Wests effectively landed the knock-out punch with Turaga powering over for his second try in the left corner in the 67th minute, before interchange player Pat Tanna crossed on the right flank after they elected to run the ball on the last tackle four minutes later.

Brothers came up with a consolation try to star centre Shaun Collins with two minutes to go and Nathan Moores side-line conversion reduced the margin, but all honours belonged to the Panthers, who had also upset Brothers 44-40 in extra-time in the major semi-final a fortnight earlier after losing to them in all of their three clashes in the fixture rounds.

Every one of their players really rose to the challenge and Brent Kuskey paid tribute to his team, his father Tracy and club legend Nathan Tanner, who each assisted him with coaching, and the work of Lindsay McCarthy and his committee.

Brothers coach Dean Akers congratulated Wests and admitted they were hungrier and played better on the day.

Retiring halfback Matt Hall was again one of Brothers best, including again topping their tackle count with 42 in a signature performance, and he did not deserve to bow out in a losing side after being a 10-year warrior for the club in A Grade and being a major contributor to their five premierships during a golden era.

Brothers however made it a hat-trick of premierships in the three-year history of the Womens League with a typically dominant 30-4 victory over a gallant but outclassed Easts Magpies 30-4 with classy fullback Kady Tinker bagging a hat-trick of tries.

The Magpies also lost the Reserve Grade decider, going down to minor premiers Hervey Bay Seagulls 36-22.

But they reigned supreme in under-18 with second rower Zak Bainbridge featuring with a double as they edged out minor premiers Fraser Coast 26-22.

Winger Jon Simms and interchange player Daniel Kirk each also crossed twice for the Coast but Easts were deserved winners after racking up six tries to four.

A Grade: Wests 30 (Joel Turaga 2, Aaron Kuskey, Joel Fagan, Boe Zimmerlie, Patrick Tanna tries; Josh Tanner 3 goals) d Brothers 12 (Tom Quill, Shaun Collins tries; Nathan Moore 2 goals).

Women: Brothers 30 (Kady Tinker 3, Nicole Curtis, Kelly McDowell, Tiara Best tries; Bonnie Coolee 3 goals) d Easts 4 (Natalie Gala tries).
Acknowledgement of Country

Queensland Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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