There was movement at the station after Round 10 of the Bundaberg Broadcasters A Grade Premiership on Saturday, but two positions remained the same.
The unbeaten Past Brothers were able to consolidate their hold on top spot by outlasting titleholders Waves Tigers 18-14 in a three tries per side arm wrestle at Salter Oval, in a match punctuated by numerous handling errors by both sides forced by relentless defence.
At the other end of the spectrum, a last-minute forfeit by Maryborough Brothers to Easts left them without points and was enough for the Magpies to overtake Waves and move into second position on standings.
The bye kept Wallaroos fourth in the pecking order, while at Stafford Park, hosts Hervey Bay Seagulls made it back-to-back wins for the first time this year with 19-year-old second-rower Tyson Miller grabbing a hat-trick to be a match winner in a 32-20 ambush of Wests.
The win draws them level on points with the Panthers, but placed them fifth, ahead of their opponents on for and against.
For the second week in a row, flashy winger Ben Kambanei drew first blood for Brothers on the back of a perfect draw-and-pass by 17-year-old fullback Jake Bonus and sharp shooter Zak Bainbridge kicked a booming sideline conversion for a 6-0 lead in better than even time.
Waves hit the front with tries in the 21st and 27th minutes, but the Brethren edged ahead 12-10 at the break with a signature try to champion hooker Brent Kuskey on the siren.
Brothers scored out of nothing again with a bit more magic to high-quality centre Tyrell Priestley 10 minutes into the second stanza before Bainbridge again added the extras to take it to 18-10.
From there, neither team was able to add to their account despite many promising attacking raids until Brothers lost the ball in a tackle in their red zone and giant Tigers centre Arden Lankowski swooped and forced his way over for his second try in the 77th minute.
But alas, their conversion attempt from the touch line hit the left post and rebounded away.
Waves launched one last attacking, but winger Jamie Morey, who started the season in Reserve Grade, safely took a dangerous towering bomb under extreme pressure and Brothers then protected the ball over the last minute to emerge victorious.
One of their shining lights was centre Josh Birch in his home-coming after the 23-year-old former Australian Junior Merit Team member left Bundaberg in 2010, then played two years with Norths Devils in the Brisbane junior league and from 2013-15 with Newcastle Knights in the National Youth Championship.
He then switched to rugby union and played three seasons for University of Queensland in the Brisbane Premier League, during which time he also played in the Queensland Country NRC team.
Brothers coach Steve Plath said he had been a chance-signing as best mate of their halfback Taylar Barritt.
Birch add some real class in both attack and defence, and Plath said apart from goal-kicking, landing three conversions to one, it was defence which won them the contest with inspirational captain and front rower Kevin Sherriff again leading the charge and quiet achieving second rower Hayden Golchert also drawing applause for a non-stop 80-minute performance.
First-year club president and interchange front rower Logan Tanzer, as usual, was also outstanding in both attack and defence in his bursts on the field.
“I’m super proud of the defence – they didn’t look like getting through in the second half apart from the dropped ball on our line – the boys showed a lot of ticker and courage and it was the sort of character needed to win premierships but we all know that we need to work even hard and improve,” Plath said.
There are no BRL fixtures this weekend due to the 47th Battalion Under 18 and 20 carnival at Murgon.
Brothers are scheduled to meet their Fraser Coast counterparts when action resumes on July 6, but the Maryborough Brethren’s future in the competition is in grave doubt after forfeiting three of their past four games.
Waves and Easts will battle it out for second position at Salter Oval and Wallaroos will be desperate to snap a three-game losing streak when they host Hervey Bay at Eskdale Park.
Brothers will not play Waves again until a likely showdown in the finals, but they still have a tough run home, playing Wallaroos at Eskdale Park and Easts, both twice, in the last five rounds, as well as a clash with the improved Hervey Bay.
It was an almost perfect day for the Seagulls, with the only hiccup being their women dropped from second to third after a double to star centre Tiara Best spearheaded Brothers to a 16-12 victory over them.
Their Under 18s started the day with Dominic Maguire featuring with a double in their 28-14 triumph over Wests, while in Reserve Grade, they were ahead of Wests 24-4 when the game was abandoned after the Panthers, who started with just 11 players, were reduced to less than the minimum required.
Brothers’ Reserve Grade side also came from behind to tame the Tigers 50-24 with a 16-point haul to uncompromising forward Owen Chambers, who bagged a double and kicked four goals.
Waves’ only joy for the day came through their women who overpowered the hapless Valleys / Roosters 38-4 with rugged second rower Cassandra Koch doubling up.
Round 10 A Grade Results
PAST BROTHERS 18 (Ben Kambanei, Tyrell Priestley, Brent Kuskey tries; Zak Bainbridge 3 goals) defeated WAVES TIGERS 14 (Arden Lankowski 2, Reece Maughan tries; Layton Chambers goal)
HERVEY BAY 32 (Tyson Miller 3, Casey Russell, Ryan Davy, Dion Bunyan tries; Logona Vetemotu 4 goals) defeated WESTS 20 (Dyirun Johnson 2, Robert Telfer, Jensen Deamer tries; Dyirun Johnson 2 goals)
EASTS defeated MARYBOROUGH BROTHERS (forfeit)
LADDER: Past Brothers 16 (+266), Easts 12 (+66), Waves 10 (+54), Wallaroos 10 (+38), Hervey Bay 6 (+26), Wests 6 (-8), Maryborough Brothers 0 (-442)