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Bundaberg Round 4 preview: Plenty of talent in the mix

Back-to-back wooden-spooners Wallaroos are eager for history not to repeat this year.

After a much-improved performance in their first home match of the season last week, going down to Waves Tigers 36-22, the Wallaroos will be hoping for success when they host Wests in the fourth round of the Bundaberg Broadcasters A Grade Premiership at Eskdale Park Maryborough this Saturday at 5pm.

But it will not be easy against the Panthers, who started their campaign with an 18-14 victory over Waves Tigers, before plucking premiers Hervey Bay Seagulls 70-8 on their home ground, then serving it up to Past Brothers in their top of the table showdown last Saturday, and while beaten by a conversion 18-16, they proved themselves as genuine contenders.

At Salter Oval in Bundaberg, the Seagulls’ season from hell thus far, scoring only 12 points while conceding 182, looks set to continue with another tough day at the office in the eye of the Tigers at 4.15pm.

Then at 6pm, there will be plenty of spice in the battle between the high-flying Brothers and the Magpies, who notched their second win of the season last week, beating Hervey Bay 50-0.

Flashy winger Ponipate Wailevu, who arrived in Bundaberg as a seasonal worker earlier this year, was a match winner for Waves against Roos, wreaking havoc with four tries.

But there were also plenty of good signs for Roos, who put a 62-8 loss to Brothers pre-Easter behind them, welcoming back powerhouse forwards Brad and Will Jung, and they will certainly be better for the outing, and their veteran former NRL star captain/coach Maurice Blair was at his vintage best with a double.

The Panthers and Waves are the jointly-best represented club in the Bundaberg team for the XXXX 47th Battalion Carnival in Emerald next weekend.

Both with six, and that group of Wests players, excitement machine centres Israel Power and Bruce Ikamanu, electrifying former Central Queensland Capras under-21 halfback Laish Salam, club stalwart and inspirational forward Joshua Tanner, young lethal lock Dyirun Johnson, and utility gamebreaker Livimai Liuanga, head an imposing list of potential match-winners.

And they will be smarting from last week’s narrow defeat, and hungry to return to the winners’ list and depending on the result of Brothers’ duel with Easts, possibly returning to a share of the competition lead.

The Tigers’ six Bears’ representatives are brothers Reece and Cody Maughan, with captain and front rower Reece a Rock of Gibraltar week-in-week-out, and fullback Cody also always very good, pocket dynamo halfback Brendan Grills, who just keeps going from strength to strength, Sam Tobin, who has relished the opportunity to be their starting hooker this season and is also blossoming, powerhouse second rower Lachlan Patterson, and their South African international front row sensation Joshua Hill.

But their artillery does not end there, and coach Antonio Kaufusi has moulded them into a team to be feared, and the sky could be the limit for them against the hapless Seagulls.

Brothers will be favoured against Easts, and the Magpies will need to take their game to another level.

Although the competition leaders will need to be on their game with the Magpies including a string of game breakers, including halfback and reigning BRL A Grade Player of the Year Andreas Nona, who will be fitter for his first game of 2023 last week, former Seagulls premiership stars twins William and Scott Walthall, captain and centre of excellence Delroy Tanner, another new recruit Jayden Smith, who shone at halfback in their first two games before moving to fullback to accommodate Nona’s return last week, and perennial prolific try scoring back Trent Seeds, who will be hungry to break his drought and notch his first try of the season

For two of Brothers big name recruits, Matt Craven and Mitchell Taylor, who have been in supreme form, it will be their first game against their former club, with Craven winning the BRL A Grade Player of the Year in his first two seasons with the Magpies in 2019 and 21 and being captain-coach last season, and Taylor being one of their best in his first year in Bundaberg in 2022.

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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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