Magpies back in title mix
EASTS Magpies resuscitated their title hopes in the Bundaberg Broadcasters A Grade Premiership by bursting the Isis Devils bubble with a tense 32-28 victory over them in their 10th round clash at Salter Oval on Sunday.
Despite their return to the winners' list after copping a series of recent batterings, the Magpies remain in sixth position, moving to 9 points but they are now just one behind fifth seeds the Devils, with only the win-less Waves Tigers behind them on 4 bye points.
At the opposite end of the table, Brothers moved to 18 points with their 54-16 demolition of the Tigers in the first A Grade game on Saturday.
They are now 4 points in advance of reigning premiers Wests Panthers, who suffered a surprise 42-32 defeat at the hands of a resurgent Wallaroos at Eskdale Park, Maryborough, on Saturday night.
Hervey Bay, who picked up the 2 bye points, stay in third position, now on 13 points, one clear of Roos.
Despite losing halfback Hayden Herbert after he suffered a facial injury in under-18 earlier in the afternoon and having nine players doubling up from that match, the Magpies halted the Devils juggernaut, clawing their way to a 14-12 half-time lead and toughing it out to the end.
Isis were without game breaking fullback Jake Thompson and three of their others stars in Jo Neilley, Matt Curtis and Liam Gooden and Easts capitalised on their absences but nothing could be taken away from their win.
They had six individual try scorers, including five of their under-18s who were doubling up, Kale and Cody Stibbards, Jesse Marschke, who played together with his twin Ben, former Queensland age representative front row Ross Larsen and Baidon Cooper.
Star five-eighth Nathan Sullivan scored a double for the Devils but it was not enough and the loss cost them a golden opportunity to move to within two points of second position.
Similarly, Wests suffered a setback to their minor premiership hopes when they were ambushed by Roos.
Electrifying halfback Roderique Gela was at his brilliant best for the hosts in his return from a one-match suspension, scoring two tries and kicking three goals in another match winning performance.
Wallaroos led 14-10 at oranges and driven on by a frenzied home crowd, they simply had too many guns against a side which was noticeably rusty in their first match for three weeks because of no fixtures on the Queen's Birthday weekend before having the bye.
Second rower Brad Pfeffer was a stand-out for the 2013 champions with a double but captain Josh Tanner rued one that got away from them.
Brothers were still without a string of their big guns but it made no difference against the cellar dwellers who were again put to the sword.
With pocket dynamo captain and halfback Andrew Cross producing another master-class display, the Brethren were always in control despite a few lapses, opening up a 32-10 lead at the break and never relenting despite not scoring again for 23 minutes after adding two converted tries in the first four minutes of the second stanza.
The Tigers then scored a consolation try in the 72nd minute but Brothers put the icing on the cake, cracking the half-century barrier with their 10th try in the last minute.
Brothers lost young interchange dynamo Jake Bauer to injury early on but every other player contributed well in a robust team performance, including A Grade debutant Mitchell Chapman, who was one of four under-18 players backing up for their second game of the day.
Barnstorming second rower Joel McCrea notched a double in a signature heavyweight all-round showing and he again topped the tackle count with 25, including 21 bone-crunchers in the second half when Waves dominated possession on the back of a 9-1 penalty count in their favour, while unheralded winger Mitchell Gaul continued his emergence with a fine try in another strong showing in all departments.
Pint-sized lock Jamie Turnbull, a Brothers junior product, also was rewarded with a try in a performance far above his weight in just his second game after almost 10 years in Brisbane.
In Reserve grade, the Magpies overpowered the Devils 48-6 with centre Luke Koski leading the charge with a hat-trick of tries, while Brothers got their season back on track, edging out Waves 28-22 with hooker Tyrone Giljevic a match winner with three tries, although big interchange forward Cameron Chambers crashed over to break the dead-lock and seal victory.
In the women’s division, Brothers, who are chasing their fourth straight premiership, white-washed the Magpies 28-0 with Queensland representative fullback Kady Tinker again shining with a double.
Wallaroos 42 (Roderique Gela 2, Daniel Gillen, David Ball, Sam Hutchins, Eddie Booth, George Major, Brad Davies tries; Roderique Gela 3, Alex Beatty 2 goals) d Wests 32 (Brad Pfeffer 2, Daniel Mairu, Kane Chapman, Windsor Bowie, Brendan Magala tries; Mairu 2, Bevan Page 2 goals).
Brothers 54 (Joel McCrea 2, Mitchell Gaul, Aidan Dempsey, Nathan Moore, Andrew Cross, Bryce Holdsworth, Dylan Blackman, Jamie Turnbull, Joshua Pope tries; Moore 7 goals) d Waves 16 (Nathan Jones, Tom Tupou, Kyle Swallow tries; Brendon McKeown 2 goals).
Easts 32 (Cody Stibbards, Jesse Marschke, Kyle Laybutt, Ross Larsen, Caleb Gazzard, Baidon Cooper tries; Laybutt 2, Zak Bainbridge 2 goals) d Isis 28 (Nathan Sullivan 2, Jack Rowan, Trent Broadhurst, James Bryant tries; Ashley O’Donnell 4 goals).