Three-way tussle at the top
Isis Devils, Wallaroos and Waves Tigers maintained their position as three-way co-leaders on the Bundaberg Broadcasters A Grade Premiership table, each recording their fourth wins of the season.
They defeated Past Brothers 22-16, Hervey Bay Seagulls 44-12 and Easts Magpies 30-22 respectively in their Round 5 matches last Saturday night.
Meanwhile, Wests Panthers moved into outright fourth position with a 38-30 despatch of Maryborough Brothers in the first A Grade showdown on the program at Eskdale Park.
Earlier, the Wallaroos had responded to their first defeat in 2018, at the hands of Wests, continuing their Fraser Coast rivals’ misery.
At Salter Oval, the Tigers also bounced back from their shock loss to Isis, before the Devils got out of jail, finishing over the top of the reigning premiers after having trailed 16-10 with 13 minutes left on the clock.
Isis were without a few of their big guns and the youthful Brethren played their best game of the season and they looked set for a monumental upset when they broke a 10-10 dead-lock.
They took a six-point lead in an enthralling end-to-end battle when barnstorming teenage front rower Brendan Stewart plunged over under the posts with 13 minutes to go and Ben Kuskey converted.
But the Devils drew level with flashy debutant Sione Tooa, who started on the interchange bench, scoring his second try on the back of a penalty with seven minutes on the clock and Nathan Karami, who had scored one of their earlier tries, raising the flags.
Brothers tried to respond, but in a cruel twist of fate, it was one of their former junior prodigies and A Grade premiership stars, Matthew Craven, who has made a comeback for Isis this year after a few seasons off, who drove the dagger into their hearts.
He swooped on the ball from a well-directed bomb and went all the way on the end of their next set, before Karami again kicked truly. They then jealously guarded their lead over the last few minutes.
Halfback Luke Waters pulled the string on a polished Roos performance, bagging a double and setting up several other tries, while their dynamic centres, three times BRL A Grade Player of the Year Shaun Collins and Brandon Law again wreaked havoc with the former notching one try and the latter amassing 18 points with a pair of tries and five conversions.
Young winger Brandon Clayton also picked up a pair of tries of his own.
Waves were also without a number of their galaxy of stars, but powerhouse forward Jake Zaina, a club junior product who was also outstanding in their charge to the 2016 grand final, made a welcome return after recently returning home from Melbourne and he celebrated in style by grabbing a double in a signature robust all-round performance despite having no match fitness.
Lethal lock Reece Maughan achieved the same feat to co-star in defusing the beefed-up plucky Magpies.
Maryborough Brothers also played their hearts out but the Panthers produced another strong showing and got the chocolates with livewire fullback Willie Nagas and crafty five-eighth Tyson Douglas leading the charge with twin doubles.
There is no club football this Saturday (tomorrow) due to the 47th Battalion Carnival in Toowoomba and also no fixtures the following weekend due to the Junior 47th Battalion Carnival at Salter Oval, with Isis, Roos and Waves to suit up against Easts, Past Brothers and Maryborough Brothers in the next round on May 19.
Waves 30 (Jake Zaina 2, Reece Maughan 2, Trent Seeds tries; Clinton Horne 3, Tyrell Howard 2 goals) d Easts 22 (Joshua Gee, Ross Larsen, Fabiano Saladrau, Sailosi Narabe tries; Tyrone Ward 2, Sam Kuhnel goals)
Isis 22 (Sione Tooa 2, Nathan Karami, Matthew Craven tries; Karami 3 goals) d Past Brothers 16 (Klint Beer, Ben Kambanei, Brendan Stewart tries; Ben Kuskey 2 goals)
Wests 38 (Willie Nagas 2, Tyson Douglas 2, Hayden Priestley, James Prichard, Nicholas Tanner tries; Prichard 4, Marshall Murphy goals) d Maryborough Brothers 30 (Liam Chapman, Ethan Fisher, Dalton Harry, Mason Atkinson, Sam Barwick tries; Lincoln Willmot 5 goals)
Wallaroos 44 (Brandon Law 2, Brandon Clayton 2, Luke Waters 2, Shaun Collins, Josiah Alberts tries; Law 5, David Ball goals) d Hervey Bay 12 (Ben Hudson, Ben Keelty tries; Nathan McDonnell 2 goals)
*Vince Habermann is the QRL's Bundabery Rugby League correspondent