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Bundaberg Rugby League Round 11 preview

Waves Tigers coach Antonio Kaufusi says they must win in their Bundaberg Broadcasters A Grade Premiership Battle of the Big Cats against Wests Panthers at Salter Oval at 6pm tomorrow to keep on track for a tilt at the minor title.

It come after they consolidated second place to get to within one point of leaders Past Brothers with a 26-12 victory over them last Saturday,

Brothers are on 15 points, with Waves now breathing down their necks on 14, and the Panthers prowling and moving to 12 points with a season defining 42-28 triumph over Easts Magpies on the weekend. The Magpies are on 11 and Wallaroos now on eight after their 116-1 win over Hervey Bay Seagulls.

Brothers will almost certainly beat the Seagulls in their 5pm encounter at Stafford Park in Hervey Bay, while Wallaroos must win in their 4.15pm showdown with Easts to keep their top three hopes alive.

Brothers were again without a string of their big guns against Waves but while their youthful side tried hard, the Tigers were ruthless in defence and clinical overall, taking a 14-6 half-time lead with two tries late in the first half, including a crucial four-pointer to hooker Sam Tobin with 33 seconds remaining.

Tobin completed a double in the second stanza, continuing his outstanding form week-in-week-out, while inspirational captain and front rower Reece Maughan also barged over for a try.

But Kaufusi knows it will be tougher against Wests, with honours shared between the two sides this year after the Panthers prevailed 18-14 in the season-opener on March 25, but his Tigers turned the tables 22-10 when they last met on May 13.

There is always plenty of feeling between the two sides, with Waves including five quality players who have moved from Panther-land in the past two years, centre Jensen Deamer, in-form halfback Brendan Grills, powerhouse second rower Lachlan Patterson, and interchange aces Kynan Hard and Flynn Purkis.

After four losses in a row, Wests are now on a four-match winning streak, and vintage veteran second rower Josh Tanner led the charge last week with a double.

They also defeated Brothers two weeks earlier and have stamped themselves as legitimate contenders with match-winners across the field, and they are now showing the consistency that coach Corey Tanner has called on.

Roos ran amok against their Fraser Coast cousins last week with winger Justin Sinnett and veteran centre Bruce Waia both bagging four tries, halfback Bailey Robertson notching a hat-trick, fullback Jorden Kemble chalking up 38 points with a pair of tries and 15 conversions, and team stalwarts centre Shaun Collins and interchange front rower David Ball each also crossing twice.

But they have not won in Bundaberg for over a year, and they lost to Easts 32-22 back in round one.

While they got home 42-30 in Maryborough last time they crossed swords, Round 11 will be the ultimate test against a Magpies team which will be smarting after being brought back to the field by the Panthers and will be hungry for the two points.

Main image: Teenage winger Tumeli Naco, who has been one of Waves Tigers’ best all season, scored another try against Past Brothers on Saturday. Photo: Vince Habermann

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