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Magpies and Seagulls to battle it out for early silverware

The first piece of silverware of the Bundaberg Broadcasters A Grade Premiership season will be up for grabs when Easts Magpies and Hervey Bay Seagulls battle it out for the Bundaberg Toyota Challenge Trophy at Salter Oval at 4.30pm.

The prize is contested between the two leading teams after the first full round of competition when they next meet.

The first round concluded back on May 7 when the Seagulls were on top of the table after notching three wins and a draw in their first five matches, while the Magpies were in second spot with three wins.

Hervey Bay subsequently did not lose another game until being beaten by Waves Tigers 48-10 last Saturday, but Easts slumped to five straight defeats, with their only point coming from a last-start lacklustre 14-14 draw with Wallaroos.

The Seagulls got home 42-38 in a pulsating duel in which both teams notched seven tries in the only meeting between the two sides so far in 2022 back in April.

There are also a vital two premiership points on the line, and the Seagulls will be determined to bounce back after surrendering top spot to Waves with last week’s shock capitulation.

Fifth-placed Easts are four points clear of Wallaroos, but three points adrift of joint-third seeds Wests Panthers and Past Brothers. While they are expected to seal a finals berth, they will be desperate to burst out of the doldrums and avoid a sudden death campaign in the play-offs.

The Seagulls will welcome back big guns, rock solid second rowers veteran Dion Bunyan and rising superstar Max Shorter, and electrifying halfback David Woodbridge.

For the Magpies, while their confidence is rock bottom, they still boast some of the best players in the region in captain / coach Matt Craven, fullback Trent Seeds, highly potent halves Andreas Nona and Mitchell Taylor, front rower Hayden Priestley, and hooker Lachlan Price. 

If they can develop combinations with the six new players in the side, Sakiusa Dreunmolea, Josateki Masibalavu, Manasa Levatabua, Jonetani Nasilasila, Simione Navuto, and Josateki Dawai, anything is possible.

In the match that follows at 6.30pm, the claws will be out in the Battle of the Big Cats between Wests Panthers and the Tigers, while at Eskdale Park Maryborough, two-times defending champions Past Brothers will have revenge on their minds when they suit up against Wallaroos at 5pm.

The Tigers have roared in both showdowns with the Panthers so far this year, 32-24 on April 9 and 28-16 on May 29.

Waves have made just one change to their 17 who rolled the Bay, with Nick Samra coming on to the bench to replace Justin Bell, while the Panthers will be still smarting after being edged out by the Brethren 28-26 last week, with goal kicking again the difference between the pair.

Wallaroos recorded their only win of the year to date against Brothers 36-30 at Salter Oval on May 29, and they will have their home-town behind them this time but the Blue and Whites will not be caught off guard again.

Main image: Perennial Hervey Bay Seagulls game breaker Logona Vetemotu goes on the attack.

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