Unheralded second rower Ben Turner chalked up a famous second half hattrick to lead Wallaroos to a stunning 44-10 win over minor premiers and reigning champions Hervey Bay Seagulls in their 4BU/93.9HitzFM A Grade preliminary final showdown at Salter Oval on Saturday night.
After a tight first half, they were down 10-6 when the halftime siren sounded, but Maryborough’s flagship side went to the break at level-pegging after centre Brandon Law finally found a way over in the right corner.
Everyone expected the titanic duel to continue in the second stanza, but the Seagulls restarted disastrously, dropping the ball cold on the first tackle. The Roos capitalised, taking the lead with a try to front rower David Ball, who speared through the line before hooker Jack Horder converted.
From there, Hervey Bay imploded badly, repeatedly coughing up the ball early in their sets and conceding numerous penalties; while the Roos’ confidence continually grew as they defended magnificently and dazzled in attack to score an amazing 38-straight points.
While their forwards were simply awesome, led by an inspired Turner, it was halfback Luke Waters who drove the attack with a masterclass running and kicking game.
Horder, the competition’s leading points scorer, was also very good after having weeks of a low success rate with his goal kicking, delivering some telling blows with two timely sideline conversions in his six goals.
Their other prolific try scoring centre Shaun Collins finished empty-handed, something that rarely happens, but that will only further fuel his desire in this Sunday’s grand final against Past Brothers.
Wallaroos had not beaten their Fraser Coast archrivals for several seasons, but they have peaked at the right time despite losing to Past Brothers 40-16 in the qualifying final.
The loss of several Hervey Bay guns to serious injuries late in the season left the once mighty Seagulls vulnerable, although no one had anticipated such a feeble capitulation by their neighbours.
The Roos also have not beaten Past Brothers this season, although they did come back from a 10-point deficit with five minutes to go to draw 34-34 with them on July 16.
Wallaroos also caused a monumental upset in beating the Brethren 40-38 at their last BRL A Grade appearance eight years ago, when Collins, like this year, was the BRL A Grade Player of the Year.
The Roos then withdrew from the BRL for two seasons, instead playing in the Maryborough League, before returning in 2012, struggling for a few seasons after their comeback before re-emerging as a real force this season.
Brothers went on to claim a hattrick of titles from 2010-12, with Collins recruited for the 2011 season and playing starring roles in back-to-back premierships.
The Brethren also reigned supreme in 2015, but bowed out in the minor semi final last year, before multiple premiership-winning quality hooker with both the Blue and Whites and Wests, Brent Kuskey, stepped up to take on the player / coach role this campaign.
Wallaroos also outgunned the Seagulls 20-10 in the Under 18 preliminary final with four individual try scorers.
It was a bad day all-round for Hervey Bay as their women were knocked out by first-season side Isis 20-14 with livewire lock Amber Saltner a match winner for the Devils with two tries and two goals.
Past Brothers will contest all four grand finals after winning each of the major semi finals and will carry all of Bundaberg’s hopes after the city’s other preliminary finals’ representatives in Reserve Grade, Wests Panthers, were put to the sword by defending champions Maryborough Brothers 38-10 with front rower Stuart Bodnar bagging a double for the Heritage City outfit.
WALLAROOS 44 (Ben Turner 3, Joey Alberts, Brandon Law, David Ball, Edward Booth, Josh Crowley tries; Jack Horder 6 goals) defeated HERVEY BAY 10 (Ethan West, Steven Dwyer tries; Clinton Horne goal)