AFTER Brothers were down for the count late in the first half, five-times Queensland Rangers powerhouse Mat Templeman was a star with a hat-trick of tries as they resurrected their season in the Bundaberg Broadcasters A Grade Premiership, returning to No. 1 on the ladder and derailing the Isis Devils juggernaut with a 36-26 victory over them at Salter Oval on Sunday afternoon.
The Devils could have jumped from third to first if they had won, but instead, they dropped to fifth on a tightening table with now a mere three points between first and fifth.
Wests Panthers went into their showdown with Easts earlier in the afternoon with a share of the lead but their 34-28 ambush by the high-flying Magpies opened the door for Brothers to regain the premier position which they had surrendered with just a draw from their previous four matches before breaking their drought against Hervey Bay Seagulls last Saturday week.
After making a good start to their campaign and promising so much, the Seagulls were confirmed as wooden spooners when their late season implosion continued with their sixth heavy defeat in a row, this time at the hands of the hot and cold Wallaroos 58-18 in Maryborough on Saturday night.
But come Sunday and a depleted Brothers side made a dream start, getting the ball over the touch-in-goal line from the kick-off and Templeman scoring from the ensuing possession.
Isis pounced on Brothers mistakes to take the lead with tries in the sixth and 12th minutes, and while the Brethren momentarily hit the front again with a Jack Rangeley try in the 22nd minute, the Devils regained control with two converted tries, an immediate reply then another all-too-easy signature Kurt Thompson touchdown five minutes later.
They could have delivered the knock-out blow if they had not been disallowed two tries in perplexing refereeing decisions soon after.
Then somehow, Brothers returned serve to reduce the deficit to 20-16 with interchange giant rookie Jake Bauer grabbing possession in their red zone and breaking the first line before presenting a superb pass to Templeman who also evaded a couple of defenders on a 60m run to the try-line with 42 left in the first half, then Nathan Moore kicked a sideline conversion.
Isis came out all guns blazing to start the second stanza but their execution was missing and Brothers survived the onslaught, then hit back in the 45th minute with Isis dropping the ball on the Brothers line then being made to pay as Brothers winger Chris Rose picked it up and sprinted 100m to level the ledger.
Then when a rampant Templeman powered over for his third try in the 51st minute and Moore again raised the flags, Brothers really threw down the gauntlet.
The Devils were not able to regain their composure and their alarm bells were ringing when Brothers centre Tien Nguyen touched down on the hour and Moore again kicked truly.
Nguyen scored a second try as Brothers toughed out an ugly but crucial victory, restricting the Devils to just a late consolation try in the second 40 minutes.
Brothers moved to 23 points, with Wests remaining on 21 but joined by Easts with their sixth straight triumph but still massively behind them on points differential, 162 to negative 22, and Roos and Isis both on 20 points, with the former boasting a slightly superior for and against of 126 to 118.
Isis should bounce back at home at Childers Showgrounds by beating whipping boys Hervey Bay in the penultimate round this Saturday night, while at Salter Oval, finishing positions could be determined with Brothers doing battle with Easts, and Wests going head-to-head with Roos.
Wallaroos proved far too good for the Seagulls last Saturday, establishing a 24-6 advantage at oranges and completing the job in style with doubles to gun centre Sam Hutchins, halfback maestro Roderique Gela and interchange player Ben Turner.
But Easts kept defying their critics, overcoming an 18-16 half-time deficit to notch their sixth straight win with former Wests junior front rower Raymond Zysk continuing his great form, including chalking up another double in a signature robust all-round showing.
Easts upped the ante and staked their claim with the first two tries of the second term, but while the Panthers hit back with a special to young gun Delroy Tanner, the Magpies reply was swift as they again skipped away to a 12-point buffer with 18 minutes on the clock, after which Wests' ill-discipline prevented them from getting back into the contest, including the sin-binning of interchange game-breaker Corey Tanner.
Wests came up with a consolation try in the 78th minute but it was too little too late and the Magpies could now amazingly challenge for the minor premiership if they are able to continue their recent heroics against Brothers.
Meanwhile, Easts claimed the outright lead in the under-18 title race with centre Hayden Elsebach running amok with seven tries in a 60-14 demolition of Wests.
Waves Tigers had gone into the round equal on points with Easts but they were edged out 16-14 by third placed Brothers despite exciting centre Connor Jones bagging a hat-trick of tries.
There was also a reshuffling of positions on an also very tight Reserve grade ladder with Wallaroos jumping from third to first with a 24-10 despatch of Hervey Bay who slipped from first to second, with Wests sliding from second to fourth with a 32-28 defeat at the hands of cellar dwellers Waves Tigers, a 24-all draw with sixth placed Maryborough Brothers enough to elevate Easts one spot to third, and Isis thrashing Bundaberg Brothers 48-14 to get within one point of the fifth placed Maryborough Brethren.
Wallaroos are on the same number of points as Hervey Bay (20) but they have a superior nett points differential to them. Easts are now on 9 points, followed by Wests 18, Maryborough Brothers 17, Isis 16 and Bundaberg Brothers and Waves, each on 9.
Cherbourg had a good 32-4 win over Easts in the women's division with five-eighth Kyesha Bligh in the thick of things with 14 points from two tries and three goals.
Easts 34 (Raymond Zysk 2, Blake Moodie, Reece Maughan, Caleb Gazzard, Tyrone Ward tries; Hayden Herbert 5 goals) d Wests 28 (Willie Nagas, Delroy Tanner, Waylon Eggmolesse, Daniel Mairu, Bevan Page, Josh Tanner tries; Bevan Page 2 goals)
Brothers 36 (Mat Templeman 3, Tien Nguyen 2, Chris Rose, Jack Rangeley tries; Nathan Moore 4 goals) d Isis 26 (T Pasene, Kurt Thompson, Nathan Sullivan, Robert O’Donnell, C Higgins tries; Robert O’Donnell 3 goals)
Wallaroos 58 (Sam Hutchins 2, Roderique Gela 2, Ben Turner 2, Kaine Rowles, Gibson Gela, Billy Connell, Luke Waters, Eddy Booth tries; Gibson Gela 4, Dan Gillen, Billy Connell, Alex Beatty goals) d Hervey Bay 18 (Allen Cobbo-Mould 2, Ronald Fisher tries; Terry Horne 3 goals)