Hervey Bay Seagulls emerged as the new outright leaders in the Bundaberg Broadcasters A Grade Premiership after they outgunned Wallaroos 42-16 in their showdown at home at Stafford Park on Saturday.
Past Brothers, who were level on points with them going into the weekend, suffered a surprise 34-28 defeat at the hands of the improving Easts Magpies at Salter Oval on Sunday.
In the wash-up, Brothers wound up in equal-second place after having been joined on 12 points by a rampant Waves Tigers, who put the beleagued Isis Devils to the sword 76-10 earlier in the afternoon.
The Tigers were without two big guns in Rueben Baillie and Tien Nguyen, but they were also bolstered by several more high quality recruits including two more former Brothers excitement machines in electrifying centre Sekope Tua and barnstorming front rower Vahiti Hopoi, and they were in a class of their own, with the former dazzling on debut with five tries in a signature performance.
Waves had two players sin binned in the first half, and in their absence, the Devils got to within six points of them at 16-10 down, but once back to full numbers, the Tigers were unstoppable, racking up a further 60 unanswered points.
Wingers Mosese Tua and Steve Holani-Latu each also chipped in with doubles while fullback Zak Bainbridge racked up 24 points with one try and 10 conversions, while halves Masada Iosefa, in just his second game for the club, and classy club junior product Daniel McLennan wreaked constant havoc, and picked up one try each.
Waves are right back on target since recruiting heavily after suffering back-to-back losses, including a 44-10 drubbing by Brothers on April 16, and they now loom as serious title contenders, but their coach Antonio Kaufusi is not getting carried away, warning that there is four months to the grand final and there is much hard work still remaining to be done.
The Tigers have the bye this weekend before taking on Wests Panthers at their next outing on Sunday, May 22, while there is no respite in sight for Isis who will travel to Eskdale Park, Maryborough to face a fired-up hosts Wallaroos this Saturday.
Roos tried hard against the Bay last Saturday, but were no match for their Fraser Coast counterparts, with the high-flying Seagulls again turning it on for their adoring big and boisterous home crowd, running in seven tries to three.
Centre Terry Horne led the charge with a double and his elder brother, captain and halfback Clinton also had a field day with one try and a perfect seven from seven conversions in a typically domineering display.
Hervey Bay venture to Salter Oval this Sunday to suit up against Easts, who have gone from strength to strength since being unlucky in a 22-20 loss to them on April 9.
It was another great day for the Seagulls, with their Under 18s downing Past Brothers 28-20 and their Reserve graders blitzing Roos 66-4 with fullback Liam Chapman, who has been squeezed out of the A Grade side, the star with a hat-trick of tries.
Easts, who started the season slowly with three straight losses, including a 46-14 thumping by Brothers on March 13, built on their first win of 2016 at their previous outing against the lowly Devils, throwing down the gauntlet by jumping out to a 10-0 lead against the lethargic premiers, and ultimately sealing a deserved victory with two late tries.
Hooker Caleb Gazzard, who was the BRL A Grade Player of the Year in 2014 when the Magpies won just two of their first eight games, but stormed into the finals with eight straight wins, turned back the clock with two tries.
Easts had a forgettable last season when they won just three games, but with club stalwart and master coach Alan Herbert back at the helm, they have re-emerged from the embers with a no frills side despite having lost representative forward powerhouse Rhys Neil to Isis this year and another gun forward Raymond Zysk transferring to Burnett Heads in the Northern District League since their previous match.
Front rower and captain Reece Maughan rallied his troops and led from the front, while evergreen halfback Josh Johnson and Andrew Mason, who has been mostly an interchange ace in the twilight of his career and relished a rare start in the front row, were each among the try scorers, along with former Wests centre Nick Toohey, who has been a revelation in his comeback season after several years out of the game.
Easts' Women were also successful, accounting for Isis 24-14, but Brothers blitzed them in Reserve grade in a 70-6 route in which veteran brothers Brendon and Robert McKeown had field days with the former chalking up 24 points with three tries and six goals and the latter grabbing one try and kicking five goals.
Past Brothers will try and get their quest for back-to-back A Grade premierships back on track this Sunday against Wests, when they will also be hungry for revenge after being ambushed by the Panthers 32-24 at their last meeting on April 9 after having trailing 28-4 at the end of an inept first half.
Hervey Bay 42 (Terry Horne 2, Ashley Boney, Clinton Horne, William Elemani, Izaak Pedersen, Steven Dwyer tries; Clinton Horne 7 goals) d Wallaroos 16 (Joey Alberts, Brandon Law, Luke Waters tries; Jack Horder 2 goals).
Waves 76 (Sekope Tua 5, Mosese Tua 2, Steve Holani-Latu 2, Zac Bainbridge, Masada Iosefa, Daniel McLennan, Robert Nona, Tukerekere Hikako tries; Bainbridge 10 goals) d Isis 10 (Sione Hakaunoto, Royce Blair tries; Taylar Barritt goal).
Easts 34 (Caleb Gazzard 2, Nick Toovey, Kale Stibbards, Josh Johnson, Andrew Mason tries; Jesse Keven 4, Tyrone Ward goals) d Past Brothers 28 (Jayden Alberts 2, Andrew Filo, Joel Fagan, Quade McGrory tries; Jake Carl 4 goals).