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A Grade preview: 'Roos seek win in Bundy comp, Toowoomba's table-topping clashes

The beleaguered Wallaroos have named their strongest team this season as they attempt to claw their way out of the doldrums when they take on the in-form Wests Panthers.

In their first home game of the season, Wallaroos will play host to Panthers in Round 7 of the Bundaberg Broadcasters A Grade Premiership season at Eskdale Park, Maryborough, tomorrow at 5pm.

The games in Bundaberg have switched from Saturdays to Sundays for the next five rounds, and this week, Past Brothers will take on Hervey Bay Seagulls at 1.30pm, before Easts Magpies suit up against Waves Tigers at 3pm.

It has been another disastrous season so far for last year’s wooden spooners, traditional heavyweights Wallaroos, who were forced to forfeit their last scheduled clash with the Panthers due to a COVID outbreak within the club.

They have been heavily beaten in the four matches they have played, including a last-start 56-8 loss against the Seagulls at the Bay one fortnight ago, before last week’s round was postponed due to heavy rain.

Wests, on the other hand, are chasing a hat-trick of wins, after upstaging, at the time, two competition leaders at their past two starts - Seagulls on their home ground, 38-24, and Magpies 14-12.

But Roos coach Dan Sommerfeld has been able to name a full complement of players, including ageless former dual BRL A Grade Player of the Year Shaun Collins, who is still one of the best players in the league.

He has also named inspirational brothers Bailey and Jesse Robertson, and another vintage veteran, Maryborough born-and-bred Maurice Blair.

Blair was an Indigenous All Stars representative in 2008, and played 99 NRL games for Penrith Panthers, Melbourne Storm, and Gold Coast Titans from 2007 until 2014, and 117 games for Hull Kingston Rovers in the English Super League from 2015 until 2018, including in the 2015 Challenge Cup final, before signing with Northern Pride in the Hostplus Cup in 2019.

Wallaroos are determined to reclaim some pride, and are expected to have a big loyal home crowd behind them as they attempt to tame the Panthers.

Meanwhile, Brothers - who were given a reality check in their quest for a hat-trick of titles with a 54-32 belting at the hands of the Seagulls at Stafford Park in their first clash of 2022 - will be gunning to turn the tables on them.

After also being put to the sword by Easts 46-30 two starts back on April 23, they will need to improve further after returning to the winners’ list against Waves 28-16 in the last round.

The Magpies outclassed the Tigers 38-24 when they last met, also seven weeks ago, and they will be still smarting from that two-point loss at the hands of the Panthers, when Wests claimed victory from the jaws of defeat with a last-minute try.

Main image: Mercurial Wallaroos veteran Shaun Collins shapes to pass in a recent clash with Past Brothers. Photo: Vince Habermann/QRL

Toowoomba A Grade Round 6 previews

Saturday May 21

6.30pm: Souths v Valleys, Gold Park

We are entering into the period that will determine the momentum for both clubs.

It such a crucial game for each side, with Souths the surprise packet this season.

They couldn’t wish for a better position on the ladder but have not played a top side Round 1 and a win here would be massive for them.

On the other side of the coin, Valleys returned to the Roosters of old last round.

Key players have returned and they also rallied around Jordan Drew after his horrific injury.

Incidents like these increase the bonds in a club and Valleys will be ready come Saturday.

The Souths v Valleys rivalry goes back a long way and is second to none in the Toowoomba Rugby League.

6.30pm: Newtown v Brothers, Jack Martin Memorial Sporting Complex

It’s a long season when the scoreboard keeps clicking over.

However, while the Lions were decimated with Covid last round, the cancellation of Round 5 couldn’t have come at a better time for Newtown.

Situations like this test the resolve of clubs and the Bluebags will turn up.

Brothers meanwhile were frustrating to watch against Souths last game.

They are a better team than that - they started so well but their completion rate went missing.

This is a game to get their season back on track.

They have not won a game this season and this match is theirs for the taking.

Sunday May 22

2.30pm: Warwick v Oakey, Oakey Snr Rugby League Fields

These are two contrasting sides.

Warwick is going along nicely whereas the Bears came back to earth last round.

The game has transferred to Oakey and this is huge for Oakey.

They lift at home and Warwick will need to play well to beat them.

The Cowboys’ win over Dalby really opened a lot of eyes and they will be favourites for this game.

They have experienced key players all playing well and sides need to play well to beat them.

3pm: Highfields v Gatton, Kuhls Road, Highfields

The Battle of the Birds are always close games.

Jarrod Lee returns for the Eagles and his influence on the team has not gone unnoticed this season - they missed him against Wattles.

But they have another huge game against the Hawks, who are showing they are the real deal this season.

Gatton remain undefeated and if they win and Wattles lose to Gundy, they'll be top of the ladder.

Whereas, a win for Highfields may either put them equal top or very close.

It's an important game for both sides so early in the season, and completion rate and the start will be the key.

Highfields lost their way in the second half against Wattles whereas Gatton are coming into the match in form.

 

3.30pm: Pittsworth v Dalby, Pittsworth Rugby League Grounds

It's an interesting game this one.

The Danes are on the verge of grabbing two points with Dalby smarting from last round.

The week off would have benefited these two sides the most.

Both have injured players and you would think they would now be in better shape due to the week off.

The Diehards' loss last round was particularly surprising, especially in wet weather.

The winner depends on the desire in this match.

 

2.30pm: Goondiwindi v Wattles, Gilbert Oval

Two of the top teams in the competitions are back after Wattles spoiled the Boars' undefeated run in this corresponding game last season.

Goondiwindi will not only want to avenge the Wattles defeat from last season but return to the winner’s circle to stay in touch with top position.

Both sides are balanced with plenty of talent right across the park.

Austin Jennings and Chris Woodbridge had a stunning battle last time they met in different jerseys.

They meet again as better players and in different surroundings.

Jennings, on the winning side, was quiet by his own standard last game while Woodbridge was over shadowed by young Trae Bennetto.

Both halves combinations are key as seen over their last couple of games.

The high ball has been a big part of both teams' plans and that will be no different in this big game.

Ash Jarrett and Kai Duggan’s plays from dummy half crucial and may just be the difference.

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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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