Hervey Bay Seagulls all but claimed their maiden Bundaberg Broadcasters A Grade Premiership minor title with a 44-10 demolition of a much depleted Past Brothers in their round 19 showdown at Salter Oval on Sunday.
The team heavyweights went into the game on equal points but with the Brethren having a big advantage on nett points differential, but they were also without many of their stars, including player/coach Mat Templeman and Corey Chapman (both suspended), captain Brent Kuskey, Tom Quill and Joel McCrea due to sickness or injury, and Aaron Kuskey and Daniel Finter with work commitments, and they had no answer to the ruthless Seagulls.
Meanwhile, after having ended Brothers' 14-game winning streak six days earlier, two-times defending champions Wests Panthers were unable to repeat the effort, relinquishing their iron grip on third position with a surprise 34-24 defeat at the hands of fired up hosts Wallaroos at Eskdale Park, Maryborough on Saturday night.
In the early fixture on Sunday's program, Easts Magpies ended their 14-game losing streak and avoided the wooden spoon, handing it to Waves Tigers once again by soundly beating them 62-30.
With the team they had, Past Brothers went into the duel with the Bay as a mission impossible but and while they made a dream start with returning star fullback Jake Carl drawing first blood with a try and conversion in the third minute, they knocked on from the ensuing kick-off and the Seagulls struck back immediately with their also high-quality custodian Alex Braun slicing through untouched from the scrum win and Clinton Horne adding the extras.
They edged ahead with tries to wing sensation Billy Stefaniuk and on-the-spot second rower Tyson Woodman, but Brothers hung in and trailed just 16-10 at the break after interchange dynamo Quade McGrory scored in the 33rd minute.
But it was all one-way traffic in the second stanza as the Baysiders added an unanswered 28 points against a walking wounded outfit which lost three more players to serious injuries.
In a well-oiled Seagulls unit which was brutal and clinical and could do no wrong, Braun was the only multiple try scorer with a double, while Horne kept delivering the blows to Brothers with a number of sue-line conversions in difficult conditions.
Hervey Bay needs now only to win when they host minnows Waves at Stafford Park tomorrow night to clinch the minor premiership as they will pick up the automatic two points for the last round bye next week.
Past Brothers, on the other hand, will have to lick their wounds for what will be another tough encounter against sleeping giants Isis Devils at Salter Oval this Sunday, and while they will welcome back a couple of key players from injury, illness or suspension, they will still be without Templeman who will not be back until next week.
Last Saturday, Wests were never in the contest against the late charging Roos, who put their stamp on the game with a 28-8 first half, and while the Panthers rallied in the second half, the bird had flown.
Coach Colin Scott has Roos peaking at the right time and they looked good with Cecil Sullivan pulling the strings at halfback and captain and second rower Mark Berkery grabbing yet another try in a robust team performance.
Wests remain in third place on 24 points, and with a healthy points differential of 140, they are two ahead of Isis, who had the bye, (-8) and Roos (-66), and they should account for lightweights Easts at Salter Oval this Sunday to shore up third berth and an accompanying qualifying final ticket.
But if they lose, they could potentially be overtaken by both Isis and Wallaroos, although the Devils would have to beat Past Brothers to set up a last-round virtual semi-final blockbuster against the Panthers next Saturday.
Roos have the bye this weekend before taking on Easts in the last round.
Despite their disastrous season, the Magpies, whose only previous win this season had been against the Tigers in the season opener, turned the tables on them after having been Waves' only victims in 2015 at their previous meeting, proving in a different class, leading 38-12 after the first 40 minutes and holding on safely against the never-say-die Tigers, with 18-year-old fullback Baidon Cooper a shining light with 26 points from two tries and nine goals in a brilliant all-round performance.
Wallaroos 34 (Arthur Saltner, Cecil Sullivan, Gatton Rolf, Mark Berkery, David Ball, Mitchell Jobson tries; Lincoln Willmot 5 goals) d Wests 24 (Willie Nagas, Delroy Tanner, Trent Seeds, Tyson Whaleboat, Sam Herbert tries; Herbert 2 goals).
Easts 62 (Baidon Cooper 2, Ashley Weir, Brendan Lachmund, Mat Tanner, Tyrone Ward, Caleb Gazzard, Justyn Porter, Ross Larson, Darren Elvin, Lloyd Johnston tries; Cooper 9 goals) d Waves 30 (Justin Johnson 2, Danny Moran, Muthuna Jones, Russell Wood tries; Harley Samuels 4, Muthuna Jones goals).
Hervey Bay 44 (Alex Braun 2, Tye Ingebrigtsen, Billy Stefaniuk, Chris Ford, Wesley Nau, Tyson Woodman, Clancy Fellow tries; Clinton Horne 6 goals) d Past Brothers 10 (Jake Carl, Quade McGrory tries; Carl goal).