THE top-four teams in the Bundaberg Broadcasters A Grade Premiership were all victorious in their Round 8 clashes on Saturday, with Waves Tigers, Isis Devils, Wallaroos and Wests Panthers defeating Past Brothers 62-6, Hervey Bay Seagulls 26-14, Maryborough Brothers 42-12 and Easts Magpies 28-20 respectively.
But it was the rampant Tigers who again proved why they are white-hot favourites to claim the title, putting the struggling reigning premiers to the sword at Salter Oval, establishing a 26-0 half-time lead and never relenting. They treated last year's beaten grand finalists and fellow contenders Wallaroos with similar disdain a week earlier.
It took just over three minutes for Waves to draw first blood through workaholic second-rower Kristian Colasimone, but the Brethren dug in for the battle. However, four tries in the last 16 minutes of the half gave the Blue and Golds the whip hand.
They made the perfect start to the second stanza with their former dual-premiership-winning centre with Past Brothers, Sekope Tua, scoring just 80 seconds after the restart.
They went further ahead before teenage front-row dynamo Brendan Stewart opened their account with a try in the 57th minute.
But that was just an aberration as the Tigers replied quickly, which again opened the floodgates, and they finished with an unanswered 24 points in the last 20 minutes, with sensational centre Trent Seeds finishing with a hat-trick of tries and inspirational captain and five-eighth Daniel McLennan notching a double.
Vastly experienced and highly decorated halfback Clinton Horne was integrally involved in most of their nine tries and he converted all of them.
Still only two points clear at the top of the table, Waves could face a tougher test this Saturday at Salter Oval against the surprise packets and the ever-improving Wests, but they could place a mortgage on the minor premiership if they can win their upcoming showdowns with Isis on June 23 and Wallaroos (July 14).
Wests v Easts
Wests and Easts went into their duel in the Match of the Round at Salter Oval last Saturday equal on points, and the pair staged a titanic duel, with former Australian junior representative front-rower Ross Larsen scoring for the Magpies in the fourth minute, and they went on to lead 14-10 at oranges.
But the Panthers hit the front for the first time with a try to Tyson Douglas which was converted by James Prichard in the 50th minute.
Easts regained the ascendancy immediately with a converted try, scored by interchange revelation Keni Nadaro.
They maintained that two-point buffer until their cross-town rivals struck twice and claimed the crucial two points, with Dyirun Johnson, who had bagged three tries in their under-18 64-4 rout of Past Brothers earlier in the day, coming off the bench to surge over in the 34th minute and his cousin and winger Dennis Johnson following suite to put the issue beyond doubt four minutes later.
It was business as usual for Roos in their local derby encounter with Maryborough Brothers at Eskdale Park after Isis had done enough to deny the ever-improving Hervey Bay.
Wallaroos v Maryborough Brothers
Roos forged a 28-6 advantage in the first 40 minutes and went right on with the job, with workhorse second-rower Ben Turner and prolific scoring winger Edward Booth each chalking up three tries and their other flanker Zeke Varley posting a double.
Isis v Hervey Bay
Isis led just 10-6 at the break but the Bay got to within two points with a 55th minute penalty goal, but in the end, the Devils' superior class got them home.
The Devils also triumphed over the Seagulls 38-16 in Reserve Grade with second-rower Eric Harrison leading the charge with a hat-trick of tries.
But the Isis women were no match for multiple-premiers Past Brothers, going down 32-6 with winger Emma Collinson and front-rower Chelsea Harrison playing leading hands for the winners with twin doubles.
Waves 62 (Trent Seeds 3, Daniel McLennan 2, Reece Maughan, Sekope Tua, Kristian Colasimone, Billy Stefaniuk tries; Clinton Horne 9 goals) def Past Brothers 6 (Brendan Stewart try; Brendon McKeown goal).
Wests 28 (Marshall Murphy, Tyson Douglas, Dyirun Johnson, Dennis Johnson tries; James Prichard 4 goals) def Easts 20 (Ross Larsen, Matt Ross, Keni Nadaro tries; Tyrone Ward 3, Jamie Lowien goals).
Isis 26 (Ethan Sargent, Jack Cole, Damien Otto, Jayden Johnson, Royce Blair tries; Jack Rowan 3 goals) def Hervey Bay 14 (Gry Togo, Tiko Hooper tries; Lachlan Jackson 3 goals).
Wallaroos 42 (Ben Turner 3, Eddie Booth 3, Zeke Varley 2, Brandon Law tries; Luke Beatty 2, Law goals) def Maryborough Brothers 12 (Dalton Harry, Luke Chapman tries; Harry goal).
Vince Habermann is the QRL correspondent covering the Bundaberg Rugby League