THERE are some great rivalries in the Bundaberg Rugby League's proud 100-year history but one of the fiercest is that between geographic neighbours Western Suburbs Panthers and Brothers.
Western Suburbs were formed as Railways way back in 1919 but had a change of name, colours and logo in the 1975 season.
Brothers only had their birth in 1948 but in 27 fewer seasons, allowing for the lapse of the competition in 1942-43, after claiming the A Grade title in four of the previous five years, they moved to the top of the BRL all-time top grade honours list with 20 premierships, before the Panthers drew level with them with a well executed grand final victory over them last September.
There have been many player and coaching movements between the two clubs, including some some of the best in the game over the years, and the feeling between two of Bundaberg's glamour clubs reached boiling point again in 2013 when Brent Kuskey, who had moved from Wests to Brothers in 2008 and was a pivotal part of their four titles in five years, including in 2012 as captain, before returning to the Panthers' den in 2013 as captain/coach, taking his elder brother Aaron and a string of Brothers players with him and masterminding Wests' rags to riches last to first transformation after having been cannon fodder wooden spooners 12 months earlier.
The Kuskey brothers and a handful of his premiership side moved to Gin Gin in the Northern Districts this season and there are now no ex-Brothers stars in their team, but they did go into Saturday's Rivalry round duel with the Brethren at Salter Oval as the unbeaten league leaders after Brothers' bubble had been surprisingly burst by Wallaroos in Maryborough on Anzac Day.
Brothers were much below strength from their physical encounter with Roos and after the loss of dual BRL A Grade Player of the Year Shaun Collins to Gladstone during the week.
Their team included two players who had spent time at Wests, captain Mat Templeman, who started his career with Brothers but finished his junior days with the Panthers, before trying his hand in Brisbane, where he won a Queensland Cup with Souths Logan Magpies, before coming home to Brothers, and speedster Chris Rose, who was part of a Brothers' A Grade winning side earlier this decade and has also returned to the blue and white this campaign after three years as a Panther.
Wests drew first blood on Saturday but the teams traded tries until the Brethren hit the front for the first time when lethal lock Lewis Williams scored on the first tackle from a scrum win the the Panthers' red zone and Nathan Moore converted in the 33rd minute.
Brothers could have run away with it after Williams completed back-to-back tries six minutes into the second stanza to extend their lead to 22-12.
But Wests dug deep and levelled the ledger with a try to their high-class captain Josh Tanner and conversion by Bevan Page on the hour mark, a minute after perennial game breaker Templeman had limped off with an ankle injury.
Brothers' reserves rallied to hold out further repeated Wests raids, then despite being severely restricted by his injury, Templeman returned for the last 11 minutes and inspired his side, although it was Williams who made another clean break from a scrum win before putting rookie centre Aidan Dempsey over for a try in the 73rd minute with Moore adding the extras for a six-point buffer.
Still the result hung in the balance until Templeman made a signature long-range incisive break up the middle and went all the way for also his second try to seal the match, then Moore again kicked truly with the full-time siren imminent.
Earlier on the program, Wallaroos went from strength to strength, putting the hapless Waves Tigers to the sword 60-24 with their big pack laying a strong platform, flamboyant halves brothers Roderique and Gibson Gela running amok, and their outside backs cashing in with flying winger David Ball bagging three four-pointers and centre Roy Stretton picking up two.
At Childers Showgrounds, Isis Devils put it all together in their first home game of the season, overwhelming Hervey Bay Seagulls 26-8 with Peter Grant unstoppable up front and brothers and club junior products Kurt and Jake Thompson, the former of whom spent two seasons with Melbourne Storm, relishing playing together for the first time in three years.
There is also great rivalry between the Devils and Seagulls with also some high profile player movements between the two clubs who each also only joined the BRL in the last 12 years.
Roos also tamed the Tigers in Reserve grade, romping home 42-12, with halfback Harrison Lynch wreaking havoc with 18 points from a hat-trick of tries and also three conversions.
Waves’ only joy came in under-18 where despite fielding a bare 13 players, they managed a famous 24-22 victory over the previously undefeated Brothers, who had a full complement of 17 men.
It was business as usual for three-times defending women’s premiers Brothers, outgunning Cherbourg 34-4 with doubles to try machine five-eighth and Queensland representative Nicole Curtis and silky skilled fullback Kady Tinker.
XXXX Rivalry Round results
Wallaroos 60 (David Ball 3, Roy Stretton 2, Gibson Gela, Billy Connell, Damien Otto, George Major, Mark Berkery, Brad Davis tries; Roderique Gela 8 goals) d Waves Tigers 24 (Dominic Tavae 3, Blake Spry tries; Sairusi Lalanabaravi 4 goals).
Brothers 34 (Mat Templeman 2, Lewis Williams 2, Chris Rose, Aidan Dempsey tries; Nathan Moore 5 goals) d Wests 22 (Willie Nagas, Delroy Tanner, Bevan page, Josh Tanner tries; Page 3 goals).
Isis 26 (Jake Thompson, Robert O’Donnell, Tanielu Pasene, Liam Gooden, Aaron Ratcliffe, Peter Grant tries; Robert O’Donnell goal) d Hervey Bay 8 (Terry Horne, Chris Ahon tries).