HISTORY repeated with Past Brothers reclaiming the Bundaberg Broadcasters A Grade Premiership with a tough 36-24 grand final victory over minor premiers Hervey Bay Seagulls in front of a bumper crowd at Salter Oval.
It was the third time that Hervey Bay, who only joined the BRL from the former Maryborough RL in 2002, had reached the Bundaberg decider after previously getting there in 2011 and 2012, but like this time, they were beaten by Brothers 38-12 and 32-10 respectively.
Hervey Bay had been beaten by Brothers with a try on the siren in the major semi-final but they went into the final without their BRL A Grade Player of the Year Alex Braun, who suffered a shoulder injury in their preliminary final triumph.
Still, they came out all guns blazing, and on the back of two early penalties, they mounted two attacks on the Brothers line, but the Brethren aimed up magnificently to hold them out both times.
The two heavyweights settled into an epic duel but it took just eight minutes for Brothers to strike with their big guns player/coach second rower Mat Templeman, five-eighth Aaron Kuskey, captain and hooker Brent Kuskey and blockbusting Tongan front rower Vahiti Hopoi all integrally involved before winger Matt Martin, a multiple Football Bundaberg (soccer) premiership winner with Across The Waves and the Bundaberg representative captain this year who also returned to league mid-season for the first time in 10 years but missed the soccer grand final on Saturday night due to suspension, drew first blood.
Past Brothers then staked their claim with two quick-fire superb tries in the 14th and 17th minutes with firstly high-class centre Tien Nguyen, who returned to the club last year after two seasons with the Sunshine Coast in the Intrust Super Cup, striking on the back after two penalties then Aaron Kuskey catching the ball and touching down from a charging run down the right edge and exquisitely placed kick infield by an inspired Templeman, and Queensland Police representative fullback Jake Carl converting both.
Tempers flared in the 25th minute, and in the wash-up, Carl and long serving Seagulls warrior Clancy Fallon, who had announced that this would be his last game before retiring, were both sent off and mercurial Hervey Bay captain and halfback and former dual BRL Player of the Year Clinton Horne was sin-binned.
Against 11 men, the Bundaberg side went further ahead in the 31st minute with powerhouse front rower Kevin Sherriff making a break before offloading to Templeman, who surged ahead, before getting away a one-handed pass in a tackle to Nguyen who finished off.
Aaron Kuskey was knocked out in the lead up and while replacement kicker Matt Martin missed the conversion, he converted the resultant penalty kick for a 22-0 lead.
Brothers dropped their guard and the Seagulls finally got on the board with try machine winger Billy Stefaniuk snaring a trademark try in the 37th minute and Clinton Horne landing the sideline conversion.
Brothers then kicked the ball dead from the ensuing restart and Hervey Bay took full toll from the resultant penalty, with centre Brock Eldridge scoring and Horne again adding the extra to reduce the deficit to 10 points after the half-time siren.
Both teams knew the importance of being first to score in the second stanza and after Matt Martin was forced off injured in the 47th minute, Templeman stepped up to the plate and took the game by the scruff of the neck with sensational back-to-back tries in the same place on the right flank, the second from a draw and pass by Nguyen.
Neither were converted but it mattered not with Nguyen bringing up a personal hat-trick of tries in the 58th minute this time from a Templeman pass after winger Chris Rose had grabbed an intercept with Hervey Bay attacking the line before sprinting 80m until being brought down on the previous play.
Martin, who had returned to the field, converted for a 24-point lead.
The Seagulls trimmed the margin to 18 points five minutes on with Horne scoring and converting.
Another scuffle broke out in the 69th minute, from which rugged Brothers second rower Michael Murphy was sent off but Hervey Bay also had a player sin-binned.
Brothers had another player stretchered off with six minutes left on the clock, hard working interchange front rower Trent Zillman, and the Seagulls got back to within two converted tries in the 77th minute with a try to second rower Adam Roderick and Horne conversion, but that was as close as they got with Brothers digging deep to jealously guard their lead to the end.
It was Brothers' 21st A Grade premiership since their formation in 1947 and fifth in the past eight years.
There were many heroes, but Templeman, in his first year also as coach and whose elder brother Jason is the team manager and a club committee member, was a thoroughly deserved winner of the Les Somerville Medal for Best and Fairest in the Grand Final.
With the added pressure and responsibility of coach, Bundaberg born and bred Templeman, 31, who was an integral member of the Souths Logan Magpies team which won the Queensland Cup in 2008, rated the victory as "the sweetest" of the four he has won in the blue and white.
Templeman also singled out assistant coach Steve Plath, Brent Kuskey, Sherriff and Nguyen for special mention in a heroic team effort.
Kuskey, who was a star in Brothers' four previous premierships in five years, in 2008 then from 2010-12, including the latter as captain, returned to the fold this year after being lured to Wests in 2013 and captain/coaching them to an upset grand final win over Brothers before playing for Gin Gin in the Northern Districts last year, was also at his vintage best, including topping the tackle count with 42.
Other heroes included crafty halfback Joel Fagan, in his first season with Brothers after playing all his career with Wests, including orchestrating their two A Grade premierships in 2013-14, Hopoi, who was a constant battering ram in his 19 signature hit-ups, tough-as-teak second rower Daniel Finter also in his first season with the club with 29 bone-crunchers.
The impact of Brothers' bench was also very significant through Zillman, loyal club servant Bryce Holdsworth who chalked up 27 tackles and finally achieved an A Grade crown at the age of 33 after previously winning several Reserve grade titles, along with previously perennial Reserve grade star Quade McGrory, and Matt Ohlbrecht, a former flying winger who returned earlier this season as a battering ram forward, after three years off following two knee reconstructions.
Two of Brothers' only three losses this year were to the Seagulls, while conversely three of Hervey Bay's four defeats were at the hands of their grand final conquerors.
Templeman said their start won it for them.
"I knew if we stuck to our processes and our game, we could do it - they stuck it to us early but we weathered the storm and got on top, our attitude was great and we completed sets and did the one-percenters that we spoke about, although they showed that you have to play for 80 minutes against them," he said.
However, Past Brothers' quest for five straight women's titles was ended by first-season side Calliope Roosters, who got home 26-22 in double-extra-time with five-eighth Jasmin Jones the Player of the Match.
Interchange dynamo Te Rauhina Wall bagged a double, including the match winner with two minutes left on the clock, while Brothers' Queensland open women's representative of last season Kady Tinker also shone with three outstanding tries, but the boot of Calliope fullback Jean Van Vegchel was ultimately the difference as she kicked three goals to Brothers' one.
Wests Panthers outgunned minor premiers Wallaroos 28-12 in Reserve grade with two tries to front rower John Ellis, while in under-18, Waves Tigers claimed a share of the spoils, downing Hervey Bay 28-16 with hooker Jackson Paulson amassing 12 points with a try and four goals.
A Grade: Past Brothers 36 (Tien Nguyen 3, Mat Templeman 2, Matt Martin, Aaron Kuskey tries; Jake Carl 2, Martin 2 goals) d Hervey Bay 24 (Brock Eldridge, Billy Stefaniuk, Clinton Horne, Adam Roderick tries; Clinton Horne 4 goals).
Reserve grade: Wests 28 (John Ellis 2, Anthony Dunphy, Craig Ryan, Leigh Eade tries; Luke Owen 4 goals) d Wallaroos 12 (Eddie Booth 2 tries, Jack Horder 2goals).
Under-18: Waves Tigers 28 (Tristan Wilson, James Brosnan, Jake Egan, Jackson Paulson, Coby Gibbs tries; Paulson 4 goals) d Hervey Bay 16 (Liam Chapman, Kobi Page, Dan Bartlett tries; Chapman 2 goals).
Women: Calliope 26 (Te Rauhina Wall 2, Elisha Hughes, Kody House, Marlane Davies tries; Egan van Vegchel 3 goals) d Past Brothers 22 (Kady Tinker 3, Jaedyn Stibbards, Layla Fauid tries; Bonnie Coolee goal).