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Bundaberg Round 5 A Grade wrap: Electrifying centres star for Wests Panthers

Electrifying former Northern Districts centres Viliami Molisi and Bruce Ikamanu starred as Wests Panthers made another big statement in the Bundaberg Broadcasters A Grade Premiership.

The Panthers claimed a second straight victory over a major contender, edging out Easts Magpies 14-12 in their Round 5 clash at Salter Oval on Saturday.

The Panthers’ only match points from the first three rounds had been courtesy of a forfeit by the Wallaroos, but they had also been gallant in defeat at the hands of two-time defending champions Past Brothers (36-26) and Waves Tigers (32-24).

They have since bounced back in a big way, inflicting Hervey Bay Seagulls’ first loss, spoiling their home party 38-24, before also displacing title favourites Easts Magpies from the top of the table.

The Seagulls returned to the head of affairs on Saturday with a 56-8 home demolition of the Wallaroos in the first match of the Baumann Shield - contested between the two clubs on the results of their three clashes.

Hervey Bay moved to seven points, with Wests now on six alongside Easts and Past Brothers, who bounced back from a 16-point loss to the Magpies to outgun the Tigers 28-16 on Saturday night.

Molisi, who played for Gin Gin Hawks in the Northern Districts Rugby League last season - including against Ikamanu in the grand final - bagged a double, with his first a crucial four-pointer on the stroke of half-time which broke a 6-6 deadlock.

In a game dominated by defence, Easts hit the front with a converted try in the 74th minute, but Wests were not to be denied, with Molisi scoring the match-winner with his second try in the last minute.

Despite Molisi’s heroics, coach Corey Tanner said it was their forward pack who laid the platform, brilliantly led by representative lock Shaun Ezzy and long-serving club champion front rower Dan Tanner.

“Having Josh Tanner, Clinton Horne, and Dan Clancy unavailable, the whole team played out of their skin, but I was impressed by (starting winger) Connor Yeats, who is currently an Auswide Bank Mal Meninga Cup player and was very strong in only his second A grade game,” Tanner said.

Elsewhere, Brothers were always in control, with teenage halfback Bryden Blair taking out the Railway Hotel Player of the Round with a superb all-round performance.

But the Tigers salvaged some pride, scoring the last three tries, with winger Delai Moto and former North Queensland Cowboys National Youth League star centre Cody Maughan both completing doubles.

However, they were not able to convert any of them, while powerhouse five-eighth Zak Bainbridge added the extras for four of Brothers’ five tries.

The Seagulls ran amok against the hapless Roos, with front rower Isaac Mielczarek having a whale of a game and claiming their man of the match award.

Acknowledgement of Country

Queensland Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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