THE return of Australian Police representative fullback Jake Carl from national duty was the catalyst as reigning champions Past Brothers rebounded strongly from their shock loss to Wests Panthers a week earlier to tame Waves Tigers 44-10 in their clash at Salter Oval on Saturday night.
Earlier in the Bundaberg Broadcasters A Grade Premiership, Wests also continued on their winning ways with a clinical 56-10 victory over a brave 14-man Isis Devils, while at Eskdale Park, Maryborough on Sunday, the improving Easts Magpies picked up their first match point of the season, drawing 18-18 with their hosts Wallaroos.
The Brothers-Waves clash had much riding on it with the premiers up against a side which has re-emerged out of a decade in the doldrums after the signing of former Brothers junior product Antonio Kaufusi as coach, and former multiple premiership winning Brothers captain Ashley Simpson as Director of Coaching, as well as the recruitment of a string of quality players including representative centre Tien Nguyen, who won a few premierships with Brothers, including last year when he was a grand final hat-trick hero.
But after the teams traded tries early, Past Brothers established a 12-point lead at oranges.
With three Tigers not returning for the second stanza after being injured in a fierce first 40 minutes, the Blue and Whites went for the kill and ran away with the match with hooker Joel Fagan (who was one of several notable absentees from the team which surrendered meekly to the Panthers) picking up a double in a trademark display.
Fullback Carl, fresh from being among a galaxy of stars as the Australian Police white-washed UK Royal Marines 68-0 in Sydney two days earlier, again was brilliant in attack and scored a match-changing 60m try late in the first half.
Waves' biggest signing utility Rueben Baillie played in the centres this week and was again amongst the tries, along with five-eighth James Brosnan. However, they must now regroup after suffering their second straight defeat after three wins to start their season of new hope.
Brothers also outgunned Waves 44-24 in Reserve Grade with veteran Robert McKeown, who is also their Under 18 coach, amassing 14 points with two tries and three conversions.
Still struggling for numbers after also forfeiting in Reserve Grade earlier in the afternoon, Isis could muster just 14 players for their duel with the red-hot Panthers, and while they never stopped trying, fatigue was a factor for them as Wests put their stamp on the game early and were ruthlessly clinical throughout.
The Panthers were without their veteran halfback Josh Garden, who had starred in their last-start ambush of the Brethren, but it made no difference with another classy and vastly experienced campaigner Bevan Page slotting into the role and posting 16 points with one try and six goals in a signature slick all-round performance.
Their forwards, headed by front rowers Hayden Priestley and Ilaiasi Pongi and hooker Josh Tanner, laid a rock-solid platform while young gun second rower Tyson Whaleboat chipped in with a double. However, eight of their 11 tries were scored by their lethal back-line, including two each to wingers Willie Nagas and Robert Telfer.
Wests will face a massive test when they suit up against fellow joint-leaders and excitement machines and hosts Hervey Bay Seagulls in the curtain-raiser to the Intrust Super Cup showdown between premiers Ipswich and Sunshine Coast Falcons at Stafford Park this Saturday afternoon, while the beleaguered Isis will take on Easts in the Match of the Day at Salter Oval on Sunday.
Meanwhile, after an agonising two-point loss to Hervey Bay eight days earlier, the win-less Magpies again served it up to another top side, who had to settle for the draw despite scoring four tries to three.
Young halfback Luke Waters claimed a double for Roos while star signing centre Paul Shillingsworth and in-form hooker Jack Horder each also grabbed four-pointers but Horder could kick only one goal.
The Magpies again aimed up in defence with their new hooker Jesse Keven tackling everything in sight and marshalling his troops magnificently; but they again suffered from the lack of a genuine game-breaker.
Roos triumphed over the Magpies 60-4 in Reserve grade with centre Ethan West earning a spot on the A Grade bench with a three-try haul.
Brothers downed Isis 38-6 in their Women's clash with second rower Simone Van Den Kieboom coming to the fore with a double.
Wests 56 (Robert Telfer 2, Willie Nagas 2, Tyson Whaleboat 2, Trent Seeds, Daniel Clancy, Danny Moran, Bevan Page, Quentin Olive tries; Page 6 goals) def Isis 10 (Faavesi Lilo, Royce Blair tries; Raymond Stahn goal)
Past Brothers 44 (Joel Fagan 2, Jake Carl, Francis Pearson, Jayden Alberts, Kevin Sherriff, Joshua Vai, Mathew Ohlbrecht tries; Carl 6 goals) def Waves Tigers 10 (Rueben Baillie, James Brosnan tries; Zak Bainbridge goal)
Wallaroos 18 (Luke Waters 2, Paul Shillingsworth, Jack Horder tries; Horder goal) drew Easts 18 (Jesse Keven, Ross Larsen, Adam Lucke tries; Nick Tanner, Josh Johnson, Tyrone Ward goals.)