After missing the finals for the first time in years last season, the rebuilt Past Brothers proved they are genuine contenders with a shock 32-4 win over title holders Waves Tigers in their Bundaberg Broadcasters A Grade Premiership fourth round clash at Salter Oval on Saturday night.
Brothers finished sixth with an 8-8 win-loss record last year, but with a string of returning stars and a few handy recruits, they won their first two matches (against Wests Panthers and Maryborough Brothers), but this was by far their toughest test so far against the might of Waves.
However, they aimed up magnificently and matched them in an end-to-end duel.
However, it took until the 29th minute for the first points of the game with bulky forward Sahli Komndi, a former club junior who had not played league for three years due to injuries, plunging over after Waves’ James Brosnan had been sin binned.
Waves were reduced to 11 men soon after with halfback Tyrell Howard, deputising in the position for the unavailable mercurial Clinton Horne, was also binned, along with Brothers winger Ned Thompson.
Brothers took advantage, establishing a 14-0 halftime lead with firstly sharp shooting fullback Zak Bainbridge kicking a 38th minute penalty, then star centre Tien Nguyen making an incisive break, then presenting an exquisite pass for wing flier Ben Kambanei to finish. Bainbridge added the extras.
They went further ahead less than two minutes after the restart with hooker Brent Kuskey scoring a signature try and Bainbridge adding the two points, before the three sinbinned players returned.
Waves opened their account, feasting on a Brothers dropped ball four minutes later.
Howard looked to have put the Tigers back in the contest in the 59th minute when he crossed, but the try was disallowed.
Brothers capitalised fully with Waves fumbling a grubber and Nguyen picking the ball up and placing it over the line three minutes later, then scoring his second straight try with 11 minutes on the clock. Bainbridge then completed a perfect six from six conversions.
Inspirational Brothers captain and front rower Kevin Sherriff, who drew lavish praise from coach Steve Plath, was “not at all surprised” by the magnitude of their win.
“There was a lot of talk about Waves being the benchmark and we knew we had to stick it to them and we did even though we were missing Brendan Stewart who brings a lot of go forward and impact off the bench,” Sherriff said.
“We were a bit loose in the ruck, but we rolled a bit better than them through the middle – we spoke before the game about fighting for everything in the middle and we did that and we were just really good.”
Sherriff did not play Waves due to injury in either of their clashes last year, which resulted in 38-6 and 62-6 losses respectively, but said the win was especially sweet for those survivors from that tough campaign, including lion-hearted forwards Tyla Hodge, Hayden Golchert and Logan Tanzer, explosive backs Kambanei and Tyrell Priestley and interchange dynamo Ben Kuskey.
He added it was also great to have the likes of highly decorated former club captains and coaches Brent Kuskey and Mat Templeman, their 2015 player of the grand final Tien Nguyen and Alberts, back.
Sherriff also said that the signing of Bainbridge and unsung hero halfback Taylar Barritt from Isis, and the comebacks of Komndi and Thompson, also after two seasons away from the gam
e, had complemented a good team.
“Brent gives us a lot of direction in the middle and Jayden was really big for me with his defence on the edge – they threw a lot of attack at him but he was very solid, but it was just a great team effort,” he said.
With such a new side, Sherriff said they would only get better and he is confident they will be there come September.
“Waves will come back stronger and Wallaroos are also a very good side, but after a game, then the bye, then a game, then the Easter break, we haven’t got game fitness yet, but that will co
me, and I think people will be talking about us now for sure,” he added.
There will be no fixtures for the next two weeks due to firstly the 47th Battalion Carnival on the Sunshine Coast, then the bye weekend coinciding with the NRL Magic Round in Brisbane.
When action resumes on May 18, Brothers will take on Easts, with Waves to try and regroup against Hervey Bay.
The Brethren will not meet the also unbeaten Wallaroos until their home round at Brothers Sports Club on June 8.
In the early A Grade match on Saturday’s program, Wests were too good for Hervey Bay 48-8 with doubles to livewire centre Willie Nagas and vastly experienced second rower Nick Tanner.
At Eskdale Park, Easts Magpies plucked hosts Maryborough Brothers 58-4 with centres Trent Seeds and Matt Ross having field days with five and three tries respectively and five-eighth Matt Craven chalking up 22 points with two tries and seven conversions.
Jack Brown’s try was Maryborough Brothers’ first points in their four games to date but it was another tough night at the office for them, having now conceded a mammoth 290 points.
Brothers also tamed the Tigers in Reserve Grade 48-10 with winger Tan Zoto continuing his red hot form with a hattrick and dynamic second rowers Daniel Finter and Jamie Morey each picking up doubles, while Wests outgunned Hervey Bay 30-26 with barnstorming front rower John Newton also crossing twice.
Brothers’ A Grade triumph completed a club clean sweep for the day after their women had also white-washed their hosts Valleys Roosters 32-0 in Gladstone with six individual try scorers.
Wests suffered their first defeat in Under 18, with Wallaroos hanging on by the skin of their teeth to prevail 22-18 after having led 18-0 at oranges in their top of the table showdown.
The Seagulls’ only joy for the day came in Under 18s where they upstaged Waves 22-10 with classy centre Casey Russell leading the charge with a two-try haul.
ROUND 4 A GRADE RESULTS
WESTS 48 (Willie Nagas 2, Nicholas Tanner 2, Jarrod Johnson, Daniel Tanner, James Prichard, Raymond Zysk, Jensen Deamer tries; James Prichard 4, Joshua Tanner, Jensen Deamer goals) defeated HERVEY BAY 8 (Daniel Silvester, Jay White tries)
PAST BROTHERS 32 (Tien Nguyen 2, Sahlie Komndi, Ben Kambanei, Brent Kuskey tries; Zak Bainbridge 6 goals) defeated WAVES TIGERS 4 (Tyrell Howard try)
EASTS MAGPIES 58 (Trent Seeds 5, Matthew Ross 3, Matt Craven 2, Dylan Taylor tries; Matt Craven 7 goals) defeated MARYBOROUGH BROTHERS 4 (Jack Brown try)