He wore the number 6, but vastly experienced journeyman Michael Wise, playing in the centres, was at his vintage best, bagging two tries in a polished all-round performance as reigning champions Waves Tigers put it all together for the first time this season, defeating Wests Panthers 50-12.
By the win in their Bundaberg Broadcasters A Grade Premiership Round 6 showdown at Salter Oval on Saturday night, the Tigers climbed from fifth to third on the ladder, with Past Brothers and Wallaroos maintaining the joint competition lead.
The Brethren outgunned hosts Hervey Bay Seagulls 46-18 at Stafford Park on Saturday night after the Roos had accounted for minnows Maryborough Brothers 40-6 at Eskdale Park in a rare Friday night fixture.
After a late reshuffle by Waves coach Antonio Kaufusi, new halves combination of Sam Robinson and Tyrell Howard dazzled in attack, but it took 19 minutes for the first points of the match to be registered with Wise scoring from a bit of Robinson brilliance.
Wise struck again less than four minutes later, but the Panthers clawed their way back with a converted try in the 31st minute.
However the Tigers regained control at 22-6 at the break after lock Reece Maughan surged over in the 35th minute, then like a thief in the night, Howard produced a bit of magic to cross and winger Layton Chambers landed his third conversion after the siren.
Chambers grabbed a try of his own and added the extras less than two minutes into the second stanza, but neither side was able to add to their account for the next 22 minutes until Waves broke the shackles with three tries in the space of just over eight minutes.
Daniel Tanner looked to have salvaged a bit of pride for Wests when he scored in the 76th minute, but unlike last week when they conceded three converted tries in the last eight minutes to hang on to defeat Hervey Bay by two points, it was just an aberration as Howard finished off a slick set move for his second try two minutes later and Wise stepped up and converted.
Wise is in his second season with Waves, having previously played for the other three Bundaberg clubs, Easts Magpies, Brothers and Wests, as well as stints in the Gladstone Rugby League for Valleys and Tannum, and for Whitsunday Brahmans in the Mackay competition.
The ultra-versatile 31-year-old, who said he had played in just about every position since joining the Tigers last season, said a “bad attitude” had been the reason for their late fade-out against the Seagulls, but a hard training session on Tuesday night triggered their ruthless 80-minute performance this week despite having a few stars missing.
“Our attack is always there but defensively we really stuck it to them, but we did have a few momentary lapses and we let a few tries through, but we are only going to get better with so many changes to the team this year,” Wise said.
Despite playing most of last season, Wise missed their drought-breaking grand final victory due to its clash with a family wedding in England, and he would love to be part of another premiership as the twilight of a distinguished career nears after already winning BRL A Grade titles with Easts and Brothers.
Now married with two young children under the age of three, life is good for the affable often unsung hero and he still loves his footy.
A scaffolder by trade, Wise is currently working in Rockhampton and while he often cannot train with the team in midweek sessions, he said he had been “around long enough to know the moves” and he feeds off the professionalism which Kaufusi has instilled in the club.
There is a perfect mix of youthful enthusiasm and experience, and the abundance of class, and he showed several times that he has lost none of his speed and guile and he is at the peak of his game.
But he said they will need to be at their best when they again meet runners up of the past two seasons Wallaroos, to whom they lost 36-30 in their season opener, in their rematch on their home ground at Eskdale Park Maryborough this Saturday night.
Meanwhile, Maryborough Brothers again battled valiantly throughout, but as expected, Wallaroos had too many guns, with bustling second rower Ben Turner leading the charge with a two-try haul.
It was a similar story for the youthful Seagulls as they tried hard in front of their adoring home crowd, but they too could not stop the Brothers juggernaut with centre Tyrell Priestley continuing his career-best form for the Blue and Whites with a double to take his season tally to six in five games to date, and flashy Papua New Guinean winger Ben Kambanei also crossing twice.
The outright lead on the ladder will be determined over the next two weeks with Roos taking on the Brethren in a blockbuster at Brothers Sports Club on Saturday week after their duel with the Tigers to warm up the first day of winter.
Brothers will have their second bye this weekend when at Salter Oval, Wests will get the ideal chance to bounce back against Maryborough Brothers and the Seagulls need to pluck Easts Magpies in the Battle of the Birds to get their season on track.
Waves’ Under 18 team also hit their straps, recording their second straight win, overpowering Wests 26-6 to move into second place on their table after being last of the four sides a fortnight ago.
Their form surge has coincided with the return from injury of crafty halfback Sam Tobin, who required major surgery after suffering a season-ending shoulder injury while playing A Grade in July last year, but made his comeback in their win over Wallaroos last week and built on that performance to claim the man of the match award against the Panthers.
In the Women’s competition, Past Brothers maintained their perfect record with Maddison Riedy-Brown coming off the bench to bag a double and lead them to a 24-6 win against Tannum, while the return of Australian representative fullback Chelsea Baker was the catalyst as Wallaby’s bounced back from their loss to Tannum the previous week to outclass Waves 36-10.
Brothers suffered their first loss of the year in Reserve Grade, going down to the Seagulls 28-6 with Tshone Dixon starring, backing up to come off the bench, notch a double and pick up his second man of the match gong for the afternoon after also being their best in Under 18.
ROUND 6 A GRADE RESULTS
WALLAROOS 40 (Ben Turner 2, Brandon Law, Brandon Clayton, Zeke Varley, Daniel Beatty, David Ball, Ethan Hutton-Ward tries; Daniel Beatty 4 goals) defeated MARYBOROUGH BROTHERS 6 (Ben Ottery try; Ethan Fisher goal)
WAVES TIGERS 50 (Tyrell Howard 2, Michael Wise 2, Arden Lankowski, Layton Chambers, Kristian Colasimone, Sekope Tua, Reece Maughan tries; Layton Chambers 5, Tyrell Howard, Michael Wise goals) defeated WESTS PANTHERS 12 (Raymond Zysk, Daniel Tanner tries; Bevan Page, Zinneh Marshall goals)
PAST BROTHERS 46 (Tyrell Priestley 2, Ben Kambanei 2, Jayden Alberts, Tyla Hodge, Brendan Stewart, Hayden Golchert, Jamie Morey tries; Zak Bainbridge 5 goals) defeated HERVEY BAY 18 (Will Kluck 2, Logona Vetemotu, Ryan Hockley tries; Logona Vetemotu goal)