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Panthers come out on top in Bundaberg's battle of the big cats

It was a red-letter day for Wests Panthers third generation rising star Marcus Tanner, notching a hat-trick of tries in his first game as five-eighth in a 42-0 white-wash of Waves Tigers in their Bundaberg under 18 Round 6 “battle of the big cats” at Salter Oval Sunday.

The Panthers had suffered their only loss so far in this shortened season when they were ambushed by the Tigers 19-18 at their previous meeting three weeks earlier, but Wests were hungry for revenge and they were ruthless, putting their stamp on the game with a 24-0 first half.

That was after Wallaroos bounced back from their heavy loss to Wests six days earlier to outgun their hosts Hervey Bay Seagulls 28-14 at Stafford Park on Saturday, also on the back of a three-try haul to their classy No. 1 Tyson Allen. The side have now taken an iron grip on a top-two finish with four rounds remaining.

Tanner, a 17-year-old Bundaberg State High School Year 12 student who is following in the proud Tanner family tradition of his grandfather Nathan and father Corey, said he relished being closer to the action with his positional change.

“I’m usually fullback, but once I was at five-eighth, I felt like I took over the team a bit more and I’m so happy with how I played – it was a matter and trying and seeing how I felt in that position and how the team ran and I hopefully I can stay there now – I didn’t really expect anything like that (three tries) but I’m pretty hyped about it,” Tanner said.

Tanner praised the forwards who laid the platform.

“Eddie Mackie had a big game, and so did (co-captain and hooker) Joel Baldwin and Isaiah Bullard – I was not surprised by the score because I believe we are the best team in the competition and I’m very happy with how we are playing,” Tanner said.

Baldwin was heavily involved in everything, as always, and contributed another hefty 14 points with two tries and three goals.

Tanner has been an integral part of many premierships with the club since he started playing in the under 7 age group and he wanted to win the under 18 trophy in the grand final on Sunday, October 11, two days after his birthday.

He also wanted to atone for the disappointment of the team promising so much last year before ultimately being knocked out in the minor semi-final.

“Last year we had many players filling in roles but this year we definitely have enough players and I feel this is one of the better teams we have had over all the years,” Tanner said.

Tanner will be aiming even higher in 2021.

“Maybe next year I will try out for the Falcons or Capras and see where that gets me, but if not, I will try and get an apprenticeship and hopefully make the Wests A Grade team – that would also be a milestone,” Tanner said.

The Panthers will meet the Seagulls at Salter Oval this Sunday and Tanner said that it was important the side maintain their intensity week-in-week-out and continue to build towards the ultimate prize.

Mercurial halfback Brendan Grills spins the ball wide for Wests Panthers in their under-18 victory over Waves Tigers.
Mercurial halfback Brendan Grills spins the ball wide for Wests Panthers in their under-18 victory over Waves Tigers.

Meanwhile, Wallaroos coach Shaun Hobson said after leading 10-0 at oranges, they went further ahead with another converted try in the first set after the restart.

“We looked like scoring again in the next set but a 50/50 call went against us which resulted in a length of the field try to the Seagulls, and this swung the momentum and Hervey Bay really came back into the contest,” Hobson said.

“But two late tries to Tyson Allen sealed the win for us, topping off another inspirational man of the match performance.

“Centres Lochlan Greenfield and Jonah MacDonald were both also strong, as was our captain and front rower Keian Grogan, who is improving every week and probably played his best game to date – he was very hard to handle and broke the line at will, and along with his off-loading, he caused trouble all game.”

Roos will host the battered and bruised Tigers at Eskdale Park this Saturday.

In the younger age groups last Sunday, Bundaberg Grizzlies powered on at the top of the under-16 table with five-eighth Bryden Blair chalking up a double in a 30-4 demolition of Brothers.

Two players achieved hat-tricks in under-13, centre Braidan Houliston, who was a match winner as the Seagulls outgunned Brothers 22-14, and crafty halfback Jimmy Gear, who led the Tigers in a 40-0 shut-out of Easts Magpies.

Round 6 results

Under 18

Wallaroos 28 (Tyson Allen 3, Seth Laherty, Lochlan Greenfield tries; Tom Colvin 4 goals) defeated Hervey Bay Seagulls 14 (William Thorogood, Gula-Bari Shillingsworth, Lachlan Armstrong tries; Dylan Crockford goal).

Wests Panthers 42 (Marcus Tanner 3, Joel Baldwin 2, Sam Woodman, Eddie Mackie, Aaron Cunnington, Damon Qualischefski tries; Joel Baldwin 3 goals) defeated Waves Tigers 0.

Under 16

Hervey Bay Seagulls 22 (Zack Wellington, Ruben Broome, Jack Roderick tries; 3 goals) defeated Wallaroos 16 (Samual Manski, Bailey Mills, Liam Doolan tries; Noah Dawson 2 goals).

Bundaberg Grizzlies 30 (Bryden Blair 2, Kade Forrester, Trey Kerr, Zander Kerr tries; Zander Kerr 5 goals) defeated Brothers 4 (Matthew Smith try).

Under 15

Wests Panthers defeated Brothers on forfeit

Hervey Bay Seagulls 38 (Harry Armstrong 2, Dane Blanke, Kayleb Angeles tries; Dane Blanke 2, Eden Wheeler goals) defeated Easts Magpies 6 (Junior Tuitoma try and goal).

Under 14

Brothers 36 (Blake Powter 2, Zac Ellem 2, Jack Schmidt, Kai Bayley, Malachi Solomon tries; Dawson Hess 4 goals) defeated Wests Panthers 4 (James Faulkner try).

Under 13

Hervey Bay Seagulls 22 (Braidan Houliston 3, Preston King, Cooper Fitzgerald tries; goal) defeated Brothers 14 (Toby Collins 2, Ryan Bohl tries; Jomar Gustilo goal).

Waves Tigers 40 (Jimmy Gear 3, Boston Marlow 2, Will Graham-Jones, Preston Walsh, Brody Dodds tries; Brody Allan 2, Jimmy Gear, Jack Howarth goals) defeated Easts Magpies 0.

Main image: Marcus Tanner stood tall with three tries in Wests Panthers’ big win over Waves Tigers on Sunday.