Co-captains centre Jensen Deamer and hooker Joel Baldwin led from the front with twin doubles as Wests Panthers flexed their muscle in the Bundaberg under 18 Division with a 40-12 win over fellow first round winners Wallaroos at Salter Oval on Sunday.
However, it was a different story for the other Bundaberg team in the competition, Waves Tigers, who slumped to their second loss, beaten by their hosts Hervey Bay 28-8 at Stafford Park on Saturday after the Seagulls had been plucked by the Panthers by 40 points in their season opener.
Wests were always in control, establishing a 28-6 half-time lead and going right on with the job, including with halfback Brendan Grills winning the race to the ball to ground it for a try to put the icing on the cake after the full-time siren.
Playmaker Baldwin also kicked five goals for a personal haul of 18 points.
Deamer, whose step-father Rick McMaster is the team coach, applauded another robust team performance.
“We had a couple of standouts, Joel (Baldwin) and Grillsy, but I feel like we all played as a team and got the job done,” Deamer said.
“Our discipline was a bit average but if we can fix that up, we will be even better.”
With no senior league in Bundaberg this year, the 18-year-old who is currently studying a Certificate III in Disability Care and pushing trollies at the local supermarket for a job, is able to “put all his (playing) eggs in one basket” this year after being a star in both under 18 and A Grade every week after turning 17 in May last year.
“It is good to focus on one game again, and as this is my last year in 18s and I’m hopeful we can go all the way, but if there was A Grade, I would do it (double up) all again,” Deamer said.
“I have been a Wests junior for life, I started in under 6 and that’s 12 years now, we won six premierships in a row from under 11 to under 16, and I want another one after we were knocked out in the first week of the finals last year.”
Deamer also plays Oz Tag and touch on Monday and Tuesday nights, so despite the late start to the season, his fitness is probably better than most.
He rates Seagulls, who upset them in the minor semi-final last August before claiming the title as the team for them to beat again.
“I think if Hervey Bay can play like last year, they will be the danger, they started a bit poorly but as they have got a good coach, they will get better as team as the year goes on – they finished fourth (of four) last year but went through to win every game in the finals,” Deamer said.
“Wallaroos are always tough too – I hear Waves got a couple of injuries (on Saturday) and they are out for the season, but they have got a good team too.”
Long-term, Deamer said “ideally (his) goal is to play higher level footy”.
“But at the moment, I am trying to work hard on the field and getting to training and being the best I can.”
In the lower age divisions, two other Panthers were also on fire, halfback Ryan Bugeja, who chalked up 28 points with four tries and six conversions in a 60-6 thumping of Easts Magpies in under-15, and front rower Bentley Rizzo, who also chalked up four tries and one conversion in a 20-20 draw with the Magpies in their under 13 match.
Hervey Bay Seagulls 28 (Jaden Carpenter, Dylan Crockford, Elias Broome, Lachlan Armstrong, Malachi Lawton tries; 4 goals) d Waves Tigers 8 (Corey Picaro, Ryan Gibbs tries)
Wests Panthers 40 (Jensen Deamer 2, Joel Baldwin 2, Brendan Grills, Isaiah Bullard, Eddie Mackie tries; Joel Baldwin 5, Marcus Tanner goals) d Wallaroos 12 (Bailey Eckert, Keian Grogan tries; Tom Colvin 2 goals)
Hervey Bay Seagulls 28 (Jaiden Torrisi, Ruben Broome, Parker Worthington, Chase Sutton tries; Chase Sutton goals) d Brothers 6 (Fletcher Ace try; Wil Simmons goal)
Bundaberg Grizzlies 16 (Kade Forrester, Bryden Blair, Rhys Felgate tries; Zander Kerr 2 goals) d Wallaroos 12 (Noah Dawson, Kayne Cooke tries; Noah Dawson 2 goals)
Hervey Bay Seagulls 38 (Harry Armstrong 2, Kayleb Angeles 2, Raiden Schocker Ryan, Jaidyn Smith tries; Eden Wheeler 3, Jonty Brien 2 goals) d Brothers 4 (Ethan Brennan try)
Wests Panthers 60 (Ryan Bugeja 4, Cayleb Johnson 2, Nathan Coney, Lincoln Dwyer, Kelly Purkis, Lewis Palella, Cordan Shearer, Khodi Docherty tries; Ryan Bugeja 6 goals) d Easts Magpies 6 (Coen Searl try; Junior Tuitoma goal)
Brothers 32 (Blake Powter 2, Malachi Solomon, Travis Larner, Kye Kuskey tries; 4 goals) d Hervey Bay Seagulls 0
Waves Tigers 28 (Noah Law 3, Tom Morcom 2, Jarrod Warren, Travis Collison tries) d Wests Panthers 6 (Ezekiel Bullard try; Lucas Brough goal)
Brothers 32 (Riley Rollings, Isaac Barrett, Jomar Gastilo, Toby Collins tries; Jomar Gustilo 3, Toby Collins goals) d Wallaroos 12 (Kohan Wallace, Memphis Williams tries; Lachlan Nitschinsk, Rilee French goals)
Easts Magpies 20 (Bentley Rizzo 4 tries; Bentley Rizzo, Joshua Garland goals) drew Wests Panthers 20 (Riley Modrow 2, Xavier Stanley, Brody Lake tries; Darnell Saunders 2 goals)
Main image: Wests co-captain Jensen Deamer on the burst in their under 18 showdown with Wallaroos