HOSTS Isis Devils turned up the heat at "The Furnace" and showed their true potential, out-muscling competition leaders Brothers 26-10 despite having Samoan front rower Telefonica Iakopo sent off midway through the first half of their Bundaberg Broadcasters A Grade Premiership round 11 showdown at Childers Showgrounds on Saturday night.
The Brethren were without a few of their stars but after being pipped at the post when the two sides last met, the Devils got the early jump and never looked like losing even with 12 men for the last 60 minutes.
Despite claiming their biggest scalp this year, the Devils remain in fifth spot on the ladder, moving to 12 points with seven rounds remaining, staying one in front of a resurgent Easts Magpies, who defeated the win-less Waves 48-16 at Salter Oval on Sunday to leave the Tigers languishing on just four bye points and virtually consign them to another wooden spoon.
Brothers remain on 18 points, but they are now only two clear of Wests Panthers, who bounced back from their loss to Wallaroos a week earlier to clip Hervey Bay Seagulls' wings 40-10.
Bye team Wallaroos climbed into third berth on 14 points, edging past the Seagulls (13).
From the start, the Devils functioned like a well oiled machine with captain/coach and hooker Simon Ricciardi pulling the strings, rampaging front rower Peter Grant leading an imposing pack, halves Nathan Sullivan and Tim Cole weaving their magic and brothers Kurt and Jake Thompson wreaking havoc at the back.
Kurt knocked the Brethren to the canvas with his second try on the back of another penalty in the dying seconds of the first half to extend their lead to 20-6.
Then when Isis crossed the line for a fifth time early in the second stanza and converted, it was virtually game over despite being a man down.
With a numbers advantage, Brothers could have capitalised but with a high mistake rate in the face of an uncompromising brutal defence, they rarely threatened and were restricted to a consolation try late in the half, leaving them to try and retain their diminished lead on the ladder against second placed Wests this Sunday when they will again be without the services of a few of their big guns.
The youthful Magpies wee always expected to account for the tame Tigers and they put their stamp on the match by opening up a 34-10 lead at oranges but despite dropping their guard and being outscored in the second half, they always had the points within their keeping.
After being battered and beaten badly over a couple of weeks, Easts have been given a kiss of life since the return of halfback Kyle Laybutt three weeks ago after starting the season with the Sunshine Coast Falcons.
Laybutt amassed 20 points with two tries and six goals in a domineering all-round performance. Under-18 centre Cody Maughan and front rower Raymond Zysk each also chipped in with two-try mauls, while for the Tigers, passionate club stalwart Brendon McKeown notched two tries and three goals despite being relegated to the bench.
The Seagulls had pecked the Panthers 26-14 when they previously met on 17th May but Wests got their title defence right back on track, winning the battle 16-4 in the first half, then going right on with the job and with their lethal back-line cashing in.
Flashy fullback Windsor Bowie and under-18 centre Delroy Tanner each bagged two tries, along with interchange dynamo Rick Nagas.
Young wing sensation Billy Stefaniuk scored both of the Seagulls' tries but it was a costly loss for them as they slid from second to fourth and they are now only two points in front of sixth placed Easts with tough games coming up against Isis, Wallaroos at their home at Eskdale Park, then a crunch game against Easts on 20th July.
In the women's division, Brothers powered on in their quest for four straight titles, overcoming Cherbourg 18-10 despite the absence of their Queensland representatives Kady Tinker and Nicole Curtis.
Sheree Bedows came off the bench to prove a match winner, notching a double.
Despite fielding a bare 13 players, Easts continued their domination of the under-18 division, disposing of Roos 32-10 with front rower Tyrone Ward leading the charge with a double.
Isis 26 (Kurt Thompson 2, Tim Cole, Peter Grant, Robert O’Donnell tries; Robert O’Donnell 2, Aaron Ratcliffe goals) d Brothers 10 (Bryce Holdsworth, Mat Templeman tries; Nathan Moore goal).
Wests 40 (Windsor Bowie 2, Delroy Tanner 2, Richard Nagas 2, Willie Nagas, Brendan Magala, Brad Pfeffer tries; Bowie, Bevan Page goals) d Hervey Bay 10 (Billy Stefaniuk 2 tries; Sam Taunoa goal).
Easts 48 (Cody Maughan 2, Kyle Laybutt 2, Raymond Zysk 2, Cody Stibbards, Nicholas Tanner, Rhys Neil tries; Laybutt 6 goals) d Waves 26 (Brendon McKeown 2, Nathan Jones, Inoke Poleu tries; McKeown 3 goals).