SECOND placed hosts Hervey Bay Seagulls rebounded from their loss to competition leaders Past Brothers in the best possible way, outgunning two-times defending champions Wests Panthers 30-20 in their Bundaberg Broadcasters A Grade Premiership round 13 showdown at Stafford Park on Saturday.
At Salter Oval on Sunday, Wallaroos consolidated fifth position with a 36-32 victory over a much improved Waves Tigers, before Isis Devils moved into outright third spot with a 30-16 dispatch of Easts Magpies.
The Seagulls made a perfect start with a try to fullback Alex Braun in the second minute but the Panthers levelled the ledger seven minutes later via centre James Prichard and went on to establish a 14-10 half-time lead with a 36th minute try to vastly experienced halfback Josh Garden.
But urged on by a parochial home crowd, the Seagulls finished the better, securing the two points with three second-half tries, including a double to form front rower William Elemani, with his 75th minute try the game breaker, before Wests finishing the game with 12 men after Garden was sent to the sin bin.
Hervey Bay, who welcomed back dual BRL A Grade Player of the Year and halfback Clinton Horne from injury, climbed to 20 points but remain two points adrift of Past Brothers, who had the bye, and four in advance of the Devils with eight rounds to go.
They face the Tigers at Salter Oval this Sunday, before the Panthers get a perfect chance to return to the winners’ list at the expense of the Magpies.
Meanwhile, Wallaroos coach Colin Scott had threatened to quit if his side did not fire, and while they were pushed all the way by the revitalised youthful Tigers, they did enough to end their four game losing streak.
Well led by captain and hard working second rower Mark Berkery, the Maryborough outfit got home with seven individual try scorers after having led 14-8 at oranges and having to fight hard all throughout.
Roos will get the two bye points this weekend before hosting the Magpies at Eskdale Park next Saturday, when they will be chasing two more points which would give them an iron grip on fifth spot and the last finals berth.
Waves, who were fresh from their first A Grade victory for two years, again showed that the injection of more of their outstanding young talent had transformed them from whipping boys to a force to be reckoned with.
Powerhouse young gun Coby Gibbs celebrated his A Grade debut with a double, while his centre partner and fellow 17-year-old Jacob O’Shea, who had been among the tries in his first top grade appearance at their previous outing, also picked up another four-pointer.
Teenage halfback Dan McLennan, who is also relishing having much more firepower and energy around him, shone and led the way with 14 points from two tries and three goals.
Isis overcame a 16-14 half-time deficit to wear down the brave Magpies and emerge victorious with three second half tries while not conceding another point.
The Devils also had six individual try scorers, but while they will be at home tomorrow night in “The Furnace” at Childers Showgrounds, they will need to step up a couple of levels if they are to stop the Past Brothers juggernaut, even though the Brethren will be playing their first game in three weeks after the Queen’s Birth weekend fixtures lay-day and their second bye.
Hervey Bay 30 (William Elemani 2, Alex Braun, Kyle Greaves, Wesley Nau tries; Clinton Horne 5 goals) d Wests 20 (James Prichard, Josh Garden, Bevan Page, Rick Nagas tries; Josh Tanner 2 goals)
Wallaroos 36 (Arthur Saltner, Sam Hutchins, Keith Gabb, Denis Sandow, Cecil Sullivan, Ashley Rainbow, Graham Rolfe tries; Josh Crowley, Sandow, Herbert Tanna, Lincoln Willmot goals) d Waves 32 (Coby Gibbs 2, Dan McLennan 2, Jacob O’Shea, Harvey Samuals tries; McLennan 3, Samuals goals).
Isis 30 (Charlie Thompson, Warwick Fay, Peter Grant, Tim Cole, Aaron Ratcliffe, Jake Thompson tries; Robert O’Donnell 2, Ratcliffe goals) d Easts 16 (Ned Thompson, Christian Senn, Luke Watson tries; Baidon Cooper 2 goals).