CLASSY fullback Jake Carl bagged a double as Past Brothers retained their position at the top of the Bundaberg Broadcasters A Grade Premiership table with a patchy 34-18 victory over two-times defending champions Wests Panthers at Salter Oval on Saturday night.
They are level pegging with Hervey Bay Seagulls on eight points but have a superior nett points’ differential of 80 after the Seagulls also recorded their fourth win of the season, outclassing Easts Magpies 32-6 earlier on the program.
To complete the round on Sunday afternoon, hosts Wallaroos bounced back from two heavy losses to recover from a 12-point deficit and snatch victory from the jaws of defeat against Isis Devils 26-24 at Eskdale Park Maryborough, to also join Isis and Wests in equal-third place, each on six points from two wins and two losses and two bye points.
Brothers made a great start with a try to industrious second rower Joel McCrea in just the second minute, but the Panthers regrouped and were the next to score with 17-year-old winger Trent Seeds crossing on the right flank in the 17th minute.
The Brethren increased their lead with some Carl brilliance nine minutes later, before he added the extras.
But Wests hit back again with a four-pointer to opposite winger Robert Telfer two minutes before the break, although a second failed conversion attempt left them four points behind at oranges.
After a scoreless first 16 minutes in the second stanza, the Brethren put their stamp on the game with four tries in the space of 10 minutes, through livewire centre Jayden Alberts, who was backing up after bagging a hat-trick in their under-18 victory over the Seagulls earlier in the afternoon, a second try to Carl, captain/coach Mat Templeman and newly converted five-eighth Tom Quill, who also again oozed class.
Brothers dropped their guard and the Panthers claimed some consolation with two tries in the last seven minutes, scored by blockbusting front rower and club president Corey Tanner and Seeds, who again did well for a double.
Hooker Brent Kuskey, who captained Brothers to the 2012 premiership before captain-coaching Wests to glory in 2013, then spending last season with Gin Gin in the Northern Districts Rugby League, turned in his signature all-round excellence, while new recruit halfback Joel Fagan, who played throughout his career for Wests up to this year, including in their back-to-back premierships, was also brilliant.
Templeman has warned his side against any complacency when they take on Waves to complete their first full round of matches this Saturday night, with the win-less Tigers to roll out their new signing, former NRL playmaker Anthony Watts.
Meanwhile, the Seagulls, who are the only team to have beaten Brothers this season, at home back in round one, established a 18-6 lead by the break after the Magpies had scored the opening try, and they went right on with the job.
Seagulls player/coach and powerhouse second rower Tye Ingebrigtsen lauded his side’s defence.
Star recruit David Leapai also notched a double in a domineering display at hooker but former dual BRL A Grade Player of the Year, halfback and one of the club’s favourite sons, Clinton Horne was their Player of the match, scoring a try, kicking a 40-20 and setting up several tries.
The Bay has the bye this weekend, before locking horns with Western Suburbs on Sunday week.
Wallaroos, on the other hand, staged a great escape despite having tough forward Mark Berkery sent off field and winger Josh Crowley sin binned eight minutes from the end.
With the Roos' defensive line looking stretched with only 11 men on the field, in the final seconds Isis sent the ball wide and looked certain to break the Maryborough team's hearts before their winger dropped the ball.
Wallaroos coach and former Test and Origin star Colin Scott was proud of the determination his side showed, although conceding that the difference had been the goal kicking with the Devils missing several easy shots at goal.
Scott said the key to the win was the hard work of front rower and captain for the day Will Jung and lock Damien Otto, who continued his outstanding form.
The win was extra special for Jung because the crowd observed a minute's silence before the match for his stepfather, who died during the week.
Brothers 34 (Jake Carl 2, Jayden Alberts, Mat Templeman, Tom Quill, Joel McCrae tries; Carl 5 goals) d Wests 18 (Trent Seeds 2, Robert Telfer, Corey Tanner tries; James Prichard).
Wallaroos 26 (Cecil Sullivan, Will Jung, Luke Waters, Korey Foster, Alex Morrison tries; Dennis Sandow, Lincoln Willmot, Damien Otto goals) d Isis 24.
* Meanwhile, the Bundaberg A Grade men’s rep team has been announced to contest the 47th Battalion Trophy Carnival in Roma on the May 2-3.
The team is: 1 Jake Carl, 2 Zac Dann, 3 Michael Harvey, 4 Mat Templeman, 5 Alex Braun, 6 Nathan Sullivan, 7 Clinton Horne, 8 Rhys Neil, 9 Brent Kuskey, 10 Leon Baldry, 11 Tye Ingebrigtsen, 12 Joel McCrea, 13 Jake Thompson, 14 Joshua Tanner, 15 Jaiden Reynolds, 16 Chris Ford, 17 Damien Otto, 18 Robbie O'Donnell, 19 Con Mika, 20 Will Jung.
The first training session will be next Wednesday night 22nd April.