Rugged second rower Kristian Colasimone scored twice for Waves Tigers who secured an important 20-16 victory over Easts Magpies in their Bundaberg Broadcasters A Grade Premiership showdown at Salter Oval on Saturday night.
Colasimone was at his barnstorming best for the the reigning champions and struck first in the 11th minute, before a try to powerhouse centre Arden Lankowski in the 27th minute.
The Magpies scored through centre Danny 11 minutes earlier, with the Tigers taking an 8-6 lead to the break.
A player from either side was sin-binned in separate incidents in the 48th and 51st minutes, before Easts hit the front in the 55th minute with their try machine Trent Seeds doing what he has does best while halfback Dylan Taylor landed the sideline conversion.
Waves edged ahead again with strikes in the 63rd and 66th minutes by Colasimone and his back-row partner Ben Ashford, with both tries converted by the mercurial Clinton Horne.
Protecting an eight-point lead became more difficult when hooker Jay Lowien was sent off, charged with a head-butt seven minutes from the end.
The Magpies capitalised, setting up a grandstand finish with Taylor scoring in the right corner 80 seconds later.
Down by four, Easts mounted one last attacking raid with two minutes left on the clock and looked set to score until the ball landed in the hands of Waves interchange ace Tukerekere Hikaka. Waves guarded their lead through to the final siren.
Colasimone, who savoured his first double since his days as an Easts junior, said Lowien’s dismissal “really put (them) under the pump.”
“It was tough with 12, but we showed good resolve to win,” he said.
The quietly spoken 25-year-old spray painter / sandblaster by trade, is in career best form after making his A Grade debut for the Magpies in 2013.
He took the 2015 and 2016 season off before making a comeback in 2017. He then followed his good personal friend and fellow former Magpie Reece Maughan across town when he was signed by the Tigers for last season.
Both went on to be integral members of Waves’ drought-breaking premiership last September and Colasimone said they would have to keep building and improving in order to defend the title.
“We have a very talented team but are probably still not the team we were last year when we were very structured and blew teams off the park, but we are working towards that,” Colasimone said.
“Everyone is happy with our defence – we are really resilient, but we have to work on our structures in attack – that’s what’s letting us down at the moment, I believe.”
The win elevated Waves into second place on the ladder, equal on points with Easts but ahead of them on for-and-against, but they are still six points behind the unbeaten Past Brothers.
Following the withdrawal of Maryborough Brothers from the competition after having forfeited in three of the four previous rounds, there is now just two A Grade games in each round.
Elsewhere in the round
In Saturday’s other match, beaten grand finalists of the past two seasons, Wallaroos, hung on to draw 26-26 with Hervey Bay Seagulls at Eskdale Park. The match had extra significance as the Baumann Shield was contested.
Played annually in memory of George Baumann - whose grandson Travin played in the game for the Seagulls - the Wallaroos retained the shield as a result of the draw, but it was a blow in their quest for a top-three finish.
Wallaroos remain in fourth place, while the one point that Hervey Bay collected was enough for them to climb into the top five for the first time, displacing Wests Panthers, who had the bye.
More silverware will be on the line when the Tigers host the Toyota Cup this Saturday, contested between the top two teams after the first full round of fixtures.
They will take on Brothers at Eskdale Park, while at Salter Oval, there will also be much at stake for both sides in the combat between Wests and Easts.
Earlier last Saturday, the Tigers inflicted Past Brothers’ first loss of the season, overpowering them 22-4 in the Bundaberg/Gladstone Intercity Women’s League.
Dynamic 17-year-old second rower Angelina Sweeney led the charge with a double as Waves made it back-to-back wins, posting just their fourth victory of the season.
While they remain in fifth position on the ladder, they are emerging as genuine contenders once again after being beaten by Brothers in last year’s Bundaberg grand final.
The Tigers also scored a crucial win in Under 18s, proving too good for a depleted Wests 30-4 with centre Jacob Scadden bagging a double while classy halfback Sam Tobin set the standard, posting the opening try in a complete man of the match performance.
Waves remain last of four on the Under 18 table, but they are now only one point adrift of the third placed Panthers and two behind second seeds Hervey Bay.
Meanwhile, Brothers charged on at the top of the table, accounting for Burnett Cutters 26-10 with centre Levi Douglas breaking the shackles with a hat-trick.
A Grade results:
WAVES TIGERS 20 (Kristian Colasimone 2, Arden Lankowski, Ben Ashford tries; Clinton Horne 2 goals) d EASTS 16 (Danny Moran, Trent Seeds, Dylan Taylor tries; Matt Craven, Dylan Taylor goals).
WALLAROOS 26 (Shaun Collins 3, Tyrone Stacey, Joe Byrne tries; Daniel Beatty 3 goals) drew HERVEY BAY 26 (Logona Vetemotu, Ryan Hockley, Tiko Hooper, Dion Bunyan, Slayde Johnson tries; Logona Vetemotu 3 goals).