EVEN with 11 rounds to go, the Bundaberg Broadcasters A Grade Premiership looks like a two-horse race between Past Brothers and Hervey Bay Seagulls after the pair powered on big wins over Wallaroos and Isis Devils in round 10 last weekend.
The Seagulls gained revenge for their only loss of the season so far to the Devils early last month, chalking up a 30-10 victory in front of their adoring home fans at Stafford Park on Saturday.
But Brothers, whose sole defeat was at the hands of Hervey Bay in the season opener on the first Saturday in March, re-joined them at the top of the table at Salter Oval last Sunday, totally outclassing fifth placed Wallaroos 58-8.
Isis were without their biggest gun, prolific try scoring lock Jake Thompson but the Seagulls were decimated by injuries but still proved in a different league, establishing a 16-4 half-time lead and going right on with the job.
Captain/coach Tye Ingebrigtsen switched from five-eighth to halfback to fill the shoes vacated by a serious injury to Clinton Horne a week earlier and again set the standard and marshalled his troops magnificently.
Energetic prop William Elemani got the ball rolling with a try in the 10th minute, but his front row partner Steven Dwyer stole the show with a double.
The Bay and Brothers are level on points with 18 apiece, but the Bundaberg side has a massive advantage in the for and against analysis with 336 to the Seagulls' 186.
But the two will duel for the outright lead when they meet at Brothers Sports Club this Saturday afternoon.
Brothers were also in a different class despite being without their domineering utility back and captain/coach Mat Templeman, who succumbed to illness, and committing many handling errors.
Despite completing just 13 of 23 sets in the first half, they put their stamp on the game, taking a 22-4 lead to oranges.
They added another 36 points in the second stanza while conceding just one more solitary try despite again failing to complete 10 of 22 sets.
Star fullback Jake Carl had another whale of a game, including racking up 26 points from two tries and nine goals, while winger Chris Rose was on the spot to also pick up a double.
But their forward pack again laid the platform with countless incisive line breaks, the entire front row of Kevin Sherriff, Brent Kuskey and Vahiti Hopoi each among the tries in signature robust all-round performances, and Brent Kuskey topping the tackle count with 25, edging out his elder brother and lock Aaron by just one.
The ultra-consistent and workaholic veteran Bryce Holdsworth came off the bench to finish with 21 and score a deserved try while tough-as-teak second rower Joel McCrea was next on the list with 19, despite spending 10 minutes in the sin bin.
Earlier, Past Brothers stalwart Mark "Red" Phillips, a club junior product who gave his heart and soul for the Brethren at senior level for the past 15 years, mostly in Reserve Grade where he starred in all their premierships during that time, including stints as captain and/or player/coach, bowed out in the best possible way, scoring a late try and converting in a 52-22 drubbing of Roos in his last match of a distinguished career on which he has finally drawn to an end due to recurrent injuries.
In A Grade, Roos will get the chance to join Wests on 12 points when they match motors at Salter Oval this Sunday but they will need to improve dramatically with the Panthers getting better and better every week and keen to get their quest for a hat-tricks of premierships on track after a slow start to their campaign.
The Panthers were restricted to 14 points in the first 40 minutes by Waves Tigers in the match of the day on Sunday, but the floodgates opened as the Red and Black express rolled into gear to add a further 30 points in the second stanza while having their lined breached just once in a 44-6 romp.
The Tigers' A Grade drought stretched to almost two years and there does not appear to be any light at the end of the tunnel despite their never-say-day efforts week-in-week-out.
Wests, on the other hand, fielded their best team all season, with premiership winning game breaker Bevan Page uniting in the halves with Josh Garden and forming a potent duo.
But it was their prolific try scoring under-17 centre Hayden Tanna who had the biggest day out, racking up four tries, while hooker, captain and another of their aces, Josh Tanner, grabbed a double, and club stalwarts and champion front rowers Leon Baldry and club president Corey Tanner each also registered four-pointers, along with under-18 age centre Trent Seeds, who maintained his very high strike-rate.
Waves must beat Easts this Sunday if they are to be any chance of staking a late claim for a finals berth in the second half of the season, but it is also must win for the Magpies, and on paper, they will be favoured.
Hervey Bay 30 (Steven Dwyer 2, Chris Ahon, Liam Chapman, Chris Ford, William Elemani tries; Tyson Woodman 2, Brock Eldridge goals) d Isis 10 (Warrick Fay, Charlie Thompson tries; Robert O'Donnell goal).
Brothers 58 (Jake Carl 2, Chris Rose 2, Naupoto Taulanga, Joel Fagan, Kevin Sherriff, Brent Kuskey, Vahiti Hopoi, Bryce Holdsworth tries; Carl 9 goals) d Wallaroos 8 (Sam Hutchins, Mark Berkery tries).
Wests 44 (Hayden Tanna 4, Josh Tanner 2, Trent Seeds, Josh Garden, Leon Baldry, Corey Tanner tries; Bevan Page 4 goals) d Waves Tigers 6 (Joe Misa try; Dan McLennan goal).