Waves Tigers claimed their club’s first A Grade silverware since 2007 and showed why they are white-hot favourites to go all the way to the Holy Grail with a tough 26-6 victory over Isis Devils in the Toyota Cup at Salter Oval on last Saturday (June 23) night.
The Cup, which is contested between the two leading teams after seven rounds, doubled for Bundaberg Broadcasters A Grade Premiership points and the result kept them one point clear at the top of the table with four rounds remaining.
The star studded Tigers struck early with high class second rower Robert Nona scoring after just 93 seconds and champion halfback Clinton Horne converting, but the Devils regrouped and aimed up for the fight.
In a real arm wrestle from there on, Waves established a 14-0 lead at the break after tries also to wingers, try machine Billy Stefaniuk and Fijian Sakiusa Tavodi, who crossed for his first four-pointer in his third game for the club.
The Tigers continued on, with Horne scoring himself and converting his own try in the 57th minute, and their also prolific scoring powerhouse centre Trent Seeds joining the party five minutes on.
The Devils never stopped trying and they were rewarded with a consolation try to one of their stars, Kurt Thompson three minutes from the end, but while they too are a very good side, the game reiterated why the Tigers are virtually in a league of their own.
Their coach, former NRL, State of Origin and Test star Antonio Kaufusi said workaholic quiet achieving second rower Kristian Colasimone, inspirational captain and hooker Dan McLennan and front rower Nick Samra were their best in a robust team performance.
In the earlier match on the program, reigning premiers Past Brothers moved into fifth place on nett points differential with a big 72-0 win over Hervey Bay Seagulls, while at Eskdale Park Maryborough, last year’s beaten grand finalists and home-town heroes Wallaroos outgunned Wests 34-6 and Easts Magpies accounted for brave battlers Maryborough Brothers 36-6.
Isis remain in third place, but they are now four points behind second placed Roos, with Wests still breathing down their necks a further one point adrift.
There are no BRL fixtures this weekend due to the Central Division Under 20 and Under 18 Carnivals in Gladstone.
Waves will play Easts in the next round on Saturday week, before facing Isis again, then Wallaroos at Eskdale Park in a top-of-the-table showdown on July 21 which could decide the minor premiership, but at their best, the Tigers look unbeatable.
Roos however returned to their brilliant best against the Panthers, bringing them crash back to earth after their recent all-conquering run.
Roos led 20-0 at the break and went right on with the job, with ever-dangerous halfback Luke Waters bagging a hat-trick of tries in a five-star all-round performance.
Wests were first to score in the second stanza, but it was just an aberration as Wallaroos weathered the storm and Waters ran in three tries in the last 14 minutes to put the icing on the cake.
Roos face the beleaguered Seagulls in the next two rounds before their rematch with the Tigers who mauled them in their only meeting this season so far.
Last Saturday, the Seagulls were coming off their first win of 2018 a week earlier, but Past Brothers finally put it all together, establishing a 34-0 break by oranges and never relenting.
Halfback Ben Kuskey, who is playing in his first season in the BRL after a few superb years for Gin in the Northern Districts Rugby League, had a field day, racking up 24 points with three tries and six goals, while interchange pocket dynamo Jamie Turnbull picked up a double.
Past Brothers next face the daunting task of meeting a smarting Isis on their home ground at Childers Showgrounds, but they will then have the chance to shore up fifth place and a finals berth with back-to-back duels with lightweights Maryborough Brothers.
Maryborough Brothers aimed up against Easts, but the Magpies simply had too many guns, putting their stamp on the game with a 16-0 first half including two tries to powerhouse centre Matt Ross, who had been an integral part of Avondale Tigers’ two straight Northern Districts titles in the previous two years.
Easts stretched their lead to 28 points, before their opponents finally got on the board with what proved their only try in the 66th minute. But the Magpies finished the stronger with two more tries in the last seven minutes, including a third to Ross.
Easts finished with nine tries, but their inability to kick any goals cost them valuable points in their battle with Past Brothers for fifth place before their monumental task against the Tigers.
It was a better day for Isis in Reserve grade with their side consolidating No. 1 position with centres Ethan West and Harvey Warner each notching doubles in a 38-28 victory at the expense of Waves.
Brothers’ Women got their premiership defence back on track, bouncing back from their first loss of the season at their previous outing to upstage Isis 28-6 with their former multiple Queensland open representative lock Nicole Curtis a match winner with three tries and four goals.
The emerging Waves women also continued their form surge, downing Hervey Bay 16-6.
Past Brothers 72 (Ben Kuskey 3, Jamie Turnbull 2, Tyrell Priestley, Hayden Golchert, Kevin Sherriff, Logan Tanzer, Aaron Hall, Jamie Morey, Mitchell Richardson, Ben Kambanei tries; Kuskey 6, Priestley 4 goals) d Hervey Bay 0.
Waves Tigers 26 (Clinton Horne, Trent Seeds, Robert Nona, Billy Stefaniuk, Sakiusa Tavodi) d Isis 6 (Kurt Thompson try, Matt Craven goal).
Wallaroos 34 (Luke Waters 3, Ben Turner, Zeke Varley, Shaun Collins tries; Luke Beatty 5 goals) d Wests 6 (Robert Telfer try, James Prichard goal).
Easts Magpies 36 (Matt Ross 3, Anare Malanicagi, Danny Moran, Reece McGrath, Seremaia Kaulala, Jarrod Johnson, Craig Bek tries) d Maryborough Brothers 6 (Mason Atkinson try, Ethan Fisher goal).
*Vince Habermann is a QRL correspondent covering the Bundaberg Rugby League