Lightweight but lion-hearted hooker Dylan Bennett achieved his first ever hat-trick of tries to star as Hervey Bay Seagulls claimed outright third place on the Bundaberg Under 18 ladder at the half-way point in the competition with a commanding 40-18 over Waves Tigers at Salter Oval on Sunday.
That was after Wests Panthers moved to the outright lead on the table with a 36-12 triumph over hosts Wallaroos in Maryborough on Sunday, after having similarly scored seven tries in a 40-12 result when they previously met three weeks earlier.
Seagulls and Tigers had gone into the round on equal points, but the Baysiders turned it on, putting their stamp on the game with a 30-6 first half, before going right on with the job.
Bennett, a Xavier Catholic College Year 11 student who turned 17 on August 1, played 10 years of junior league for the club, including winning three premierships, but he has stepped up to under 18 competition this season where the Seagulls are the title holders, albeit with many changes to the team which narrowly beat the Tigers in a last-to-first finals rags-to-riches story last season.
Despite his own heroics, Bennett said five-eighth Gula-Bari Shillingsworth was again among their best.
“Gula was great - I got my last try off him – also (second rower) Elias Broome was strong in the forwards with lots of runs, but everyone played well,” Bennett said.
“We haven’t had many wins (now two), but it was good to get back into the groove and it will be good for the boys at training – it will definitely be a confidence booster – we will be able to look back and know we can score that many points.
“We just came out with more intensity – the boys really wanted it and it was a good win.”
Hervey Bay have lost twice to Wests and were also beaten by Roos, whom they will played at home this Saturday, and Bennett is certain that if they continue their form from Sunday, they can challenge for another premiership.
Meanwhile, centre Lochlan Modrow chalked up a double for the Panthers, but coach Rick McMaster named barnstorming front rower Flynn Purkis as their best, ahead of interchange ace Torey Kirby, halfback Brendan Grills, five-eighth Brad Clarke, hooker and co-captain Joel Baldwin and consistent utility Brennan Gynn.
“But it was very hard to pick best players as they all stood up and played as a team – we had a very strong second half,” McMaster said.
Modrow, a 17-year-old Bundaberg State High School Year 12 student and is in his fifth season with the Panthers, said he won his first premiership in the under 16 division in 2019, but doubled up to under 18 most weeks and was part of that side which was beaten by Hervey Bay in the minor semi-final.
He believed they would go all the way this year if everyone maintained their current level of intensity and work ethic.
Baldwin, who has led from the front in all of their five games so far, is also a Bundaberg High Year 12 student, and in his twelfth season with the Panthers.
He is determined to be a driving force in atoning for their disappointing early exit to their last campaign and to reclaim the silverware.
“Our forwards showed up with a bit of purpose and we are finally started to get a real good one this year,” Baldwin said.
Revenge will be on Wests’ minds when they suit up against Waves at Salter Oval this Sunday after they suffered their only loss in 2020 so far when they last met the Tigers 19-18 on August 9.
In the younger age groups, two teams racked up half-centuries last weekend with Wests powering to a 52-10 victory over Easts Magpies in their under 15 game and Brothers white-washing the Seagulls 50-0 in their under 14 match.
Dynamic halves Cayleb Johnson and Lewis Palella each recorded doubles for the under 15 Panthers, while powerhouse front rower Malachi Solomon and interchange player Jack Schmidt each posted hat-tricks for the under 14 Brethren.
Round 5 results
Wests Panthers 36 (Lochlan Modrow 2, Marcus Tanner, Brendan Grills, Joel Baldwin, Ethan, Torey Kirby Evans Tries; Joel Baldwin 4 goals) defeated Wallaroos 12 (Keian Grogan, Seth Laherty Tries; Jorden Kemble 2 goals).
Hervey Bay Seagulls 40 (Dylan Bennett 3, William Thorogood, David Woodbridge, Cameron Tobin, Jaden Carpenter tries; David Woodbridge 6 goals) defeated Waves Tigers 18 (Corey Picaro, Folau Havili, Liam Kenny tries; Joel Cox 3 goals).
Bundaberg Grizzlies 42 (Zachary Zerafa 2, Bryden Blair 2, Tyrese Johnson, Jonah Chapman, Kade Forrester, Joel Dickinson tries; Zander Kerr 5 goals) defeated Wallaroos 12 (Liam Doolan, Samual Manski tries; Noah Dawson 2 goals).
Brothers 20 (Lane Crossley-Price 3, Izac Pointon tries; Tumeli Naco 2 goals) drew Hervey Bay Seagulls 20 (Chase Sutton, Noah Cain, Dylan Kingdom, Ruben Broome tries; Chase Sutton 2 goals).
Wests Panthers 52 (Cayleb Johnson 2, Lewis Palella 2, Nathan Coney, Lincoln Dwyer, Jayden Holden, Shoeb Abdul, Cody Brassington, Khodi Docherty Tries; Ryan Bugeja 5, Lincoln Dwyer goals) defeated Easts Magpies 10 (Junior Tuitoma 2 tries, goal).
Hervey Bay Seagulls 24 (Dane Blanke, Robert Boorsboom, Eden Wheeler, Harry Armstrong, William Mitchell tries; Jonty Brien, Eden Wheeler goals) defeated Brothers 14 (Matthew Smith 2 tries; Ezekiel Monckton 3 goals)
Waves Tigers 18 (Thomas Morcom 3, Noah Law tries; Sebastyn Brennan goal) defeated Wests Panthers 0.
Brothers 50 (Malachi Solomon 3, Jack Schmidt 3, Blake Powter, Travis Larner, Dane Zardus tries; Dawson Hess 6, Blake Powter goals) defeated Hervey Bay Seagulls 0.
Brothers 26 (Toby Collins 3, Oliver Smith, Levi Monckton Tries; Riley Quinn 2, Isaac Barrett goals) defeated Wests Panthers 10 (Johnathon Coyne, Dylan Vickery Tries; Darnell Saunders goal).
Hervey Bay Seagulls 26 (Braidan Houliston 3, Cooper Fitzgerald 2 tries; Michael Parsgaard 3 Goals) defeated Easts Magpies 14 (Bentley Rizzo 2, Linken Austin tries; Joshua Garland goal).
Waves Tigers 30 (Jimmy Gear 2, Jack Howarth 2, Hunter Maddern, Reghan Fisher tries; Brody Allan, Jack Howarth, Brayden Young goals) defeated Wallaroos 22 (Kohan Wallace, Memphis Williams, Lincoln Charles tries; Lachlan Nitschinsk 2, Memphis Williams goal).
Main photo: Dylan Bennett was all smiles after his maiden hat-trick for Hervey Bay Seagulls in their big win over Waves Tigers in their under 18 game.