Hosts Past Brothers delivered a great tribute to popular lifetime club servant Michael McGaw, who tragically lost his battle with cancer at the age of just 47 earlier in the week, with their three senior teams recording strong wins in Round 8 of the Bundaberg Rugby League.
Their A Grade men and women both maintained their perfect season records with the former making it six from six with a surprisingly big 42-8 victory over Wallaroos, who went into the day as joint-competition leaders with them.
The Brethren’s female counterparts, who have played two more games than them, also continued on their winning ways at the expense of Waves Tigers 18-4.
Completing the trifecta, their Reserve Grade side reclaimed top position on the ladder, bouncing back from their only season loss so far at their previous outing to outgun Roos 26-10.
All teams playing at Brothers Sports Club gathered for a minute’s silence before their games in honour of McGaw; a former player, team manager, sports trainer, committee member, coach, Brothers Junior Rugby League president and club photographer, following the footsteps of his grandfather, the late Bill Stitt who was also a lifetime club champion.
Roos’ A Grade loss saw them drop to third in the pecking order, overtaken on for and against differential by Waves Tigers who received charity points by virtue of a second successive forfeit by Maryborough Brothers, whose future in the competition is now in grave doubt.
The earlier game on the program saw Easts Magpies claim outright fourth on the table at the expense of Wests Panthers with a 40-16 demolition of them.
Wallaroos, the bridesmaids of the past two years, were determined to bounce back after stumbling to their first loss this campaign, a fighting 10-point defeat by Waves, but further inspired by their Reserve Graders’ performance, Brothers, who were fresh from the bye, really flexed their muscle with seven players sharing in their eight tries to two romp.
Zak Bainbridge, moving from fullback to five-eighth, was in the thick of things, amassing 18 points with two tries and five conversions in a man of the match performance.
In a robust team effort, 17-year-old fullback Jake Bonus, playing in just his third A Grade match, was also among the match points, along with lightweight lion-hearted front-rower Tyla Hodge and club captain and Central Crows representative prop Kevin Sherriff, who later said everyone lifted for their “mate” and much loved clubman McGaw.
Club president Logan Tanzer, who as usual made a huge impact off the bench, said it was just a great day, which was attended by many Brothers old boys and provided some joy at the end of a sad week.
But he quickly dismissed any talk of them now being title favourites, as labelled by Roos coach Peter Waters at the halfway point of the season, with much water still to flow under the bridge before grand final day on September 14.
Wallaroos are a much better team than Saturday’s scoreline would indicate, while Waves are starting to really hit their straps, and Easts too are building strongly.
This Saturday at Salter Oval, Brothers will suit up against Wests, while Easts will get the chance to shoot for third place when they lock horns with Roos.
Last Saturday, the Magpies proved in a different class to the Panthers with new halfback Dylan Taylor notching a double in a polished all-round display.
Fijian import Semaia Kaulala also crossed twice, and five-eighth Matthew Craven continued his outstanding season, contributing to the win with one try, six goals, several try assists and an impressive workload in defence.
After a three-try haul on his Australian debut a week early, flashy Fijian winger Josateki Masibalavu also picked up another four-pointer.
The one sour point for the Magpies was the send off of high class representative second-rower Chris Ford in his comeback match from a broken hand.
Meanwhile, Brothers’ women were again tested by Waves but they rose to the challenge with two of their biggest guns leading the charge.
Doubles to powerhouse centre Tiara Best and former Queensland representative Nicole Curtis, who also kicked their only goal, aided their emotional victory.
In Gladstone, the Wallabys women rebounded from their shock 50-0 whitewash by Hervey Bay a week earlier to regain a share of second place on standings with a 34-0 shutout of the hapless Valleys / Roosters.
Front-rower Katie Cunningham was a hat-trick hero and star fullback Rikarra Benjamin doubled up, while Hervey Bay were brought back to the field by Tannum 22-6.
Round 8 A Grade Results
EASTS 40 (Dylan Taylor 2, Sakenasa Lalakomacuata 2, Josateki Masibalavu, Matthew Craven, Semaia Kaulala tries; Matthew Craven 6 goals) defeated WESTS 16 (Jake Evans, Joshua Johnson, Ray Zysk tries; Zinneh Marshall 2 goals)
PAST BROTHERS 42 (Zak Bainbridge 2, Ben Kambanei, Tyla Hodge, Kevin Sherriff, Hayden Golchert, Ben Kuskey, Brendan Stewart tries; Zak Bainbridge 5 goals) defeated WALLAROOS 8 (Lochlan Greenfield, Brandon Law tries)