Wing sensation Billy Stefaniuk cut loose with five tries as reigning champions Hervey Bay Seagulls white-washed the new kids on the block, Maryborough Brothers 54-0 in their Round 2 clash at Eskdale Park on Sunday.
The Maryborough Brethren, who stepped up to the A Grade plate after taking out last year’s Reserve Grade title, gave it their best shot, but their Fraser Coast compatriots proved in a different class, racking up nine tries.
To rub salt into the wounds, new Seagulls fullback Logona Vetemotu converted them all.
After starting their title defence with two wins away from home in Bundaberg and Maryborough respectively, the Seagulls return home after the Easter break to take on the Isis Devils, who are also undefeated, on Sunday, April 23.
After a horror season last year, in which they won just one game and were battered from pillar to post, the rejuvenated Isis side also continued their good form on Sunday with a 28-28 draw against a hungry Wallaroos outfit who had a big home crowd behind them.
The Devils chalked up six tries to five, but converted only two of them, costing them the extra competition point.
The Roos’ saving grace was the trusty boot of hooker Jack Horder, who notched four goals adding to his one try.
High quality centre Paul Shillingsworth, who transferred from the Roos to Isis this season, posted two tries against his old club with lethal lock Jake Thompson also crossing the try line for the Devils, adding to his four try bonanza last weekend.
Past Brothers recruits Jayden Alberts and Luther Thompson; and imposing signing Starr Masae also bagged a try each.
Sunday’s scoreline was similar to the showdown at Salter Oval the previous night between last year’s beaten grand finalists Waves Tigers and the Wests Panthers.
The Tigers started the season as hot favourites to go one better this year, but have failed to get any competition points after two rounds following a Joshua Johnson field goal gifting the two points to the Panthers, winning 29-28 away from home.
The Panthers purred to a 16-6 halftime lead and never relented but the Tigers clawed their way back and never gave up.
The home side was able to level the score with two late tries, only for Johnson to drive a dagger through their hearts with his perfect one-pointer on the siren.
The blockbusting Ilaiasi Pongi came off the bench to play a key role in the triumph with a double.
For the vanquished, try machine Trent Seeds grabbed a try against his old club to help the home side, but it was hard running winger Arden Lankowski, who has made a comeback this season after several years off, who really made his presence felt with two tries and four goals.
After losing a long string of players to other clubs, the Panthers were expected to struggle by most in this year’s campaign and the many prophets of doom became louder after they were put to the sword by Past Brothers in the opening round.
This has since changed following their narrow win against the premiership favourites.
The only other A Grade team to have made the perfect start to the new year is Past Brothers after they outclassed Easts Magpies 32-8 earlier that afternoon.
The clash had plenty of spice with former long-serving Brothers champion and premiership winning player and coach Mat Templeman coming up against the club for the first time in his new position as Magpies player/coach.
Sadly for Easts fans, his playing debut is still a few weeks away as he is currently serving a suspension for a dangerous throw in last year’s minor semi-final.
ROUND 2 A GRADE RESULTS
PAST BROTHERS 32 (Quentin Olive 3, Kane Chapman, Kevin Sherriff, Hayden Priestley, Rueben Olive tries; Quentin Olive 2 goals) defeated EASTS 8 (Francis Pearson, Dylan Taylor tries)
WESTS 29 (Ilaiasi Pongi 2, Joshua Tanner, Hayden Tanna, Raymond Zysk tries; James Prichard 4 goals; Joshua Johnson field goal) defeated WAVES TIGERS 28 (Arden Lankowski 2, Andreas Nona, Jacob Olive, Trend Seeds tries; Arden Lankowski 4 goals)
WALLAROOS 28 (Brandon Law, Shaun Collins, Luke Waters, Jack Horder, Mason Atkinson tries; Jack Horder 4 goals) drew ISIS 28 (Paul Shillingsworth 2, Luther Thompson, Jayden Alberts, Starr Masae, Jake Thompson tries; Aaron Ratcliffe 2 goals)
HERVEY BAY 54 (Billy Stefaniuk 5, Ethan West, Joel Denduck, Robert O’Donnell, Jai Ingram tries; Logona Vetemotu 9 goals) defeated MARYBOROUGH BROTHERS 0
LADDER AFTER ROUND 2: Hervey Bay 4, Pasts Brothers 4, Isis 3, Eastern Suburbs 2, Western Suburbs 2, Wallaroos 1, Across the Waves 0, Maryborough Brothers 0
***Following the completion of Round 2, the Bundaberg Rugby League announced this year’s Bears representative team to compete in the 47th Battalion carnival on Saturday, April 29 and Sunday, April 30 in Yeppoon.
The team will be captained by Isis’ Jake Thompson and includes:
1. Logona Vetvemotu (Hervey Bay Seagulls) 2. Billy Stefanuik (Hervey Bay Seagulls) 3. Jayden Alberts (Isis Devils) 4. Shaun Collins (Maryborough Wallaroos) 5. Quentin Olive (Past Brothers) 6. Nathan Sullivan (Easts Magpies) 7. Luke Waters (Maryborough Wallaroos) 8. Kevin Sheriff (Past Brothers) 9. Jack Horder (Maryborough Wallaroos) 10. Robert Nona (Across the Waves Tigers) 11. Jai Ingram (Hervey Bay Seagulls) 12. Corey Chapman (Easts Magpies) 13. Jake Thompson (Isis Devils) 14. Steven Dwyer (Hervey Bay Seagulls) 15. Chris Ford (Across the Waves Tigers) 16. Josh Tanner (Wests Panthers) 17. Aaron Flanagan (Across the Waves Tigers) 18. Starr Masae (Isis Devils) 19. Danny Moran (Easts Magpies)
Coach Dave Pearce says the team has a good blend of youth and experience and is looking forward to the challenge.
For all the latest information on the 2017 4BU/93.9HitzFM BRL Competition, head to the Bundaberg Rugby League website.