Horne racks up 28 in demo job
SATURDAY night's highly anticipated Bundaberg Broadcasters A Grade Premiership joint-leaders' showdown was a no-contest with Waves Tigers roaring to a 56-12 demolition of Wallaroos at Salter Oval.
Dual BRL A Grade Player of the Year halfback Clinton Horne, who captained Hervey Bay Seagulls to the 2016 premiership, was at his brilliant best, including racking up 28 points with a hat-trick of tries and a bag of eight goals.
While the rampant Tigers claimed the outright lead at the half-way point in the season, Roos, who were beaten grand finalists in 2017, were joined in equal-second place by Isis Devils, who finished with a wet sail to defeat a valiant Wests Panthers 28-16 in the first A Grade match on the program at Hervey Bay's Stafford Park.
Wests remained in fourth spot a further two points adrift but they were joined on points by Easts Magpies, who continued their good form, accounting for an improved hosts Hervey Bay 32-18 in the "Battle of the Birds".
Reigning champions Past Brothers stayed in sixth position but they are now just two points outside the top five after accounting for Maryborough Brothers 38-20, although they will need to improve greatly if they are to clinch a finals berth over the second half of the season.
Roos served it up to Waves early and went agonisingly close to scoring the opening try in the 13th minute, but the Tigers repelled the storm, then turned defence into attack, with barnstorming lock Reece Maughan breaking away on a 70m stampede, before Horne finished it off, then converted to get the scoreboard ticking.
From there, the floodgates opened as the title white-hot favourites, even without their best player in coach and former Test, Origin and NRL star Antonio Kaufusi, completed a 28-point splurge in better than even time to lead 28-4 at the break.
They powered on relentlessly in the second stanza, adding a further 28 points, with powerhouse centre Trent Seeds also wreaking havoc with a hat-trick, and his three-quarters partner, former dual premiership ace with Past Brothers, Sekope Tua, also joining in the party with a double.
Winger Edward Booth notched a double for Roos, but their halves Luke Waters and Luke Beatty were their best in a beaten side.
Waves to crash on
The Waves' juggernaut is expected to roll on when they do battle with Past Brothers at Salter Oval on Saturday afternoon, before the stakes will be high in the duel between cross-town rivals Wests and Easts with a top-three position for the winner and the loser to be vulnerable to a challenge for their spot inside the five by those teams directly behind them.
At Eskdale Park, Maryborough, Isis should be too strong for the Baysiders, while Wallaroos will be hungry to bounce back when they suit up against their Maryborough counterparts, Brothers, in the Heritage City local derby.
Last Saturday, Isis welcomed back one of their favourite sons, Kurt Thompson, for his first game for the club in four years, and he celebrated with a try, but they had to dig deep to get home by scoring the last 16 points of the match, with another outstanding club junior product in halfback Tim Cole a match-winner with a double and two other local junior graduates, Royce Blair and Wade Gooden scoring their other tries.
Easts also did not have everything their own way with the beleaguered Hervey Bay playing for pride in their best performance of the season, but in the end, the Magpies flew higher with high-class centre Matt Ross in the thick of things with a double and young club junior product lock Tyrone Ward also prominent with a try and four goals.
Past Brothers also did some good things but they were far from impressive, scraping home with an error-riddled second half after having led 28-6 just before the half-time siren.
Their most experienced players in workaholic second rower Aaron Hall and hooker Boe Zimmerlie were absolutely outstanding, as was multi-talented centre Tyrell Priestley, who picked up a double, but their handling was abysmal, including completing just eight of 20 sets in the second stanza.
Maryborough Brothers never stopped trying and their best was lock Jack Brown, who got them back into the arm wrestle with a pair of tries.
Meanwhile, Waves' women also shone in defeating Isis 26-8 with hooker Kristin Gibbs running amok with four tries in a polished allround performance, while defending premiers Past Brothers outgunned Hervey Bay 40-12 to maintain their position at the head of affairs.
Past Brothers 38 (Tyrell Priestley 2, Chris Rose, Hayden Golchert, Ben Kambanei, Ben Kuskey, Logan Tanzer tries; Layton Chambers 5 goals) d Maryborough Brothers 20 (Jack Brown 2, Carlin Rendall, Paul Shillingsworth tries; Dalton Harry 2 goals).
Waves 56 (Clinton Horne 3, Trent Seeds 3, Sekope Tua 2, Tyrell Howard, Reece Maughan tries; Horne 8 goals) d Wallaroos 12 (Edward Booth 2, Luke Waters tries).
Isis 28 (Tim Cole 2, Keith Gadd (junior), Kurt Thompson, Royce Blair, Wade Gooden tries; Gadd 2 goals) d Wests 16 (Willie Nagas, Matthew Lawton, Bevan Page tries; Joseph Doyle 2 goals).
Easts 32 (Matt Ross 2, Sam Kuhnel, Ray Pompey, Sailosi Narabe, Tyrone Ward tries; Ward 4 goals) d Hervey Bay 18 (Billy Young, Sean Skudder, Gry Togo, Lachlan Jackson 3 goals)
*Vince Habermann is the QRL correspondent covering the Bundaberg Rugby League