A SOLITARY conversion proved the difference as both reigning champions Past Brothers and the born again Waves Tigers made it three wins from as many matches to start the Bundaberg Broadcasters A Grade Premiership season on the weekend.
Brothers scraped home against Wallaroos 34-32 at Childers Showgrounds on Saturday afternoon with both teams notching six tries, but Jake Carl’s boot was a match winner as he landed five goals to Jack Horder’s four.
It was a repeat at the ATW Sports Complex on Sunday afternoon as the Tigers roared over Wests Panthers 26-24 in the clash of the big cats with both chalking up five tries, however Zak Bainbridge netted the hosts the two points with his three extras to Bevan Page’s two.
Meanwhile, Queensland Rangers halfback and captain Clinton Horne amassed 20 points with three tries and four goals as Hervey Bay Seagulls doused their hosts Isis devils 36-24 in the late game at “the Furnace” on Saturday.
It was another show of depth and character for the depleted Brethren as they overcame a desperate Roos with silky-skilled teenage centre Jayden Alberts grabbing a double. However, another club junior product, usual super-sub Tyla Hodge, relishing a rare start in the 13 at lock to claim their Man of the Match award with a signature robust defensive display and playing far beyond his weight in heavy traffic in attack.
High profile recruit Paul Shillingworth picked up a double for Wallaroos, but his centre partner and prodigal son Shaun Collins, a former dual BRL A Grade Player of the Year, premiership winner with the club and star of two titles with Brothers, again unusually missed out on a four-pointer as Maryborough’s representative in the competition which went into the season with high expectations now find themselves 0-3 after defeats at the hands of Wests and Hervey Bay in the first two rounds.
All teams will now enjoy the week off for Easter, with Roos to have an extra seven days’ rest as they have the bye next weekend.
It was the first time Waves have won three games in a row since their last premiership year of 2007 and they had won a total of just six matches in the previous four seasons, but they are a totally different side this year with a very good roster assembled under new coach and former NRL star Antonio Kaufusi.
They too were missing a couple of stars, but it was the class of centre Tien Nguyen, a hat-trick hero in Past Brothers’ grand final triumph in 2015 and a multiple premiership player with that club, who got them home against a Panthers team which threw absolutely everything at them, only for Waves to come up with the final try.
Nguyen and his three-quarters partner Tristan Wilson, a Tigers junior, each posted two tries, while prolific scoring young Wests sensation Trent Seeds also secured a double and his partner in the centres, Danny Moran, a journeyman, was also among the tries.
The Devils are also down on troops at the moment, and try as they may at their fortress, it was always going to be tough for them against last year’s bridesmaids who made it back-to-back wins after a first-up heart-breaking one-point home loss to the premiers.
The Seagulls put their stamp on the game with a 22-point first half but they were forced to work all the way home.
Flashy centre Elisaia Saumani was their other multiple points getter with two tries, while his opposite, new father Zac Dann, also crossed twice in a beaten side.
It will be a battle royale when Hervey Bay suit up against Waves in the second match of the A Grade triple when fixtures return to Salter Oval for the first time next Saturday night, before the Devils face another tall order against Past Brothers.
Brothers 34 (Jayden Alberts 2, Francis Pearson, Corey Chapman, Joel Fagan, Kevin Sherriff tries; Jake Carl 5 goals) def Wallaroos 32 (Paul Shillingworth 2, Joel Alberts, Ethan West, Luke Waters, Chris Ahon tries; Jack Horder 4 goals).
Hervey Bay 36 (Clinton Horne 3, Elisaia Saumani 2, Chris Wicks, Sione Nau tries; Clinton Horne 4 goals) def Isis 24 (Zac Dann 2, Peter Grant, Tevita Heehau tries; Taylar Barritt 2, Raymond Stahn 2 goals).
Waves 26 (Tien Nguyen 2, Tristan Wilson 2, Sam Bernstrom tries; Zak Bainbridge 3 goals) def Wests 24 (Trent Seeds 2, Danny Moran, James Prichard, Brad Barnes tries; Bevan Page 2 goals).