Perennial prolific scoring fullback Trent Seeds broke the shackles for 2022, scoring his first try of the season then completing a hat-trick as Easts Magpies surged back to the top of the Bundaberg Broadcasters A Grade Premiership table.
The Magpies notched up a 46-30 victory over two-time defending champions Past Brothers in their Round 4 showdown at Salter Oval on Saturday night.
After having slipped to second behind Hervey Bay Seagulls with a 42-38 loss to them in the previous round, the Magpies reasserted their superiority over their arch-rivals in their first meeting with them since their shock defeat in last year’s grand final.
The Seagulls were joined in equal-second place by Waves Tigers, who continued 2021 wooden spooners Wallaroos’ misery, inflicting their fourth straight loss, defeating them 40-6 in the earlier game on the program.
Brothers slipped to fourth, ahead of Wests Panthers, for whom the return of long serving club champions Josh and Dan Tanner was the catalyst for their first win of the season, raining on the party of their hosts - the previously unbeaten Seagulls - 38-24 at Stafford Park.
Seeds has been the BRL leading try-scorer for the past six seasons, although having to share the honour in 2021 with his captain/coach Matt Craven - both with 15.
It had been rare for him to go three games without crossing the line, but he was a man on a mission, and he was a popular winner of the Railway Hotel player of the round.
Brothers’ 2021 Rookie of the Year, winger Mitchell Clayton also bagged three tries, but the Magpies simply had too many guns.
Victory was especially sweet for Craven, over his uncle and mentor from his junior days through to his early senior career, Andrew Hamilton, but nothing will take away the pain of their grand final defeat, and he will not be satisfied unless he can end the Magpies’ 17-year drought come grand final day in August.
But with two wins and a draw from their first four games, the Tigers are emerging as the dark horses, and coach Antonio Kaufusi is delighted with how they are coming together.
“I thought my forwards really aimed up. I had a go at them before the game and challenged them to win the middle of the field and they did that,” Kaufusi said.
“Our senior players Ross Larsen, Tom Akers and Reece Maughan led from the front, but my back rowers were awesome - Jacob O’Shea with his defence, he topped our tackle count.
"Our man of the match was his second row partner, Lachlan Patterson - he was dangerous in attack and really solid in defence.”
Wingers Jensen Deamer - who joined the Tigers from the Panthers this season - and flashy Tongan flier Delai Moto led their try scoring blitz each with doubles.
High class lock Shaun Ezzy spearheaded the Panthers, also with a double, and relieved coach Corey Tanner said he was also among their best, along with his own brother and hooker Josh Tanner, and new front row combination of young gun Flynn Purkis and Ilaiasi Pongi.
WAVES TIGERS 40 (Jensen Deamer 2, Delai Moto 2, Layton Chambers, Lachlan Patterson, Sam Tobin, Jacob O’Shea tries; Layton Chambers 4 goals) d WALLAROOS 6.
WESTS PANTHERS 38 (Shaun Ezzy 2, Viliami Molisi, Tyson Douglas, Ilaiasi Pongi, Dyirun Johnson, Bruce Ikamanu tries; Chris Robinson 5 goals) d HERVEY BAY SEAGULLS 24 (Scott Walthall 2, Logona Vetemotu, Malachi Lawton, Jeremiah Pati tries; David Woodbridge 2 goals).
EASTS MAGPIES 46 (Trent Seeds 3, Mitchell Taylor, Matthew Craven, Andreas Nona, Chris Larsen, Brent Hass tries; Andreas Nona 7 goals) d PAST BROTHERS 30 (Mitchell Clayton 3, Kevin Sherriff, Zac Dann, Tyla Hodge tries; Zac Dann 3 goals).