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Bundaberg Rugby League preview: Three sides in minor title hunt

With two rounds to go in the Bundaberg Broadcasters A Grade Premiership, there is now just one point between the top three sides after last week’s results.

Past Brothers, Wests Panthers and Waves Tigers are in a three-way battle for the minor title, which is set to go right down to the wire.

Brothers retained pole position on 19 points despite suffering their second straight loss to Waves 24-16, with the Tigers moving to 18 points along with Wests, who notched their seventh victory in a row, defeating a brave Easts Magpies 30-24 with mercurial fullback Chris Robinson (pictured above) racking up 14 points with one try and five conversions.

Saturday will feature a rare triple-header at Salter Oval, with Wests, Waves and Brothers all favoured to win against Wallaroos at 2.45pm, Hervey Bay Seagulls at 4.30pm, and Easts at 6.15pm respectively.

Long-serving Wests coach Corey Tanner said Robinson and teenage second rower Zander Kerr had been their best, along with Dolphins-affiliated schoolboy centre Noah Law.

“But the biggest reason for the winning streak is that we are just playing to our style of footy and trying not to differ from that, and just take each game as it presents itself,” Tanner said.

The Panthers pounced on Roos 36-10 when they last met at Salter Oval on June 3, with Kerr featuring with a double, but they were beaten by them 18-10 in their first clash of the season in Maryborough on April 22

While Wallaroos have not won in Bundaberg since May last year, Tanner rates this as “definitely a danger game”, and he has warned his players against complacency.

“We have Clinton Horne, Josh Tanner, Shaun Ezzy away working this week, and Bruce Ikamanu injured, but we will give it a big crack and see what happens after the result. I’m just happy we have secured a top three spot,” he said.

Another win is likely to set up a last-round battle for the minor premiership with Brothers, who will host them, with Salter Oval to be rested next Saturday, ahead of the NRL showdown between Canterbury Bulldogs and Redcliffe Dolphins on Sunday, July 30.

The Panthers currently have a superior points’ differential to the Tigers - 232 to 146 - but that could be eroded away with the sky the limit for Waves against the fallen, battered and beaten reigning champions Hervey Bay.

After their surprise loss to Waves last week, Brothers will also be fired up by their coach Andrew Hamilton, with their destiny still in their own hands.

They will be bolstered by the returns of the leader of their pack, triple premiership winning captain and lock Kevin Sherriff and rugged front rower Tyla Hodge, while former dual BRL A grade player of the year Matt Craven will be better for his first game for six weeks last Saturday after overcoming a hand injury.

They too will need to be wary against the Magpies, who drew with them 14-all on April 22, and again competed strongly against them in a 30-18 loss on June 3.

Easts also have plenty of strikepower, including 2022 BRL A grade player of the year and high-class halfback Andreas Nona, 2022 Seagulls premiership winning fullback Ben Hudson and captain and explosive centre Delroy Tanner equal third on the leading try-scorer list with nine each, behind Waves duo Sam Tobin (11) and Cody Maughan (10).

Another Magpie, 2022 Seagulls premiership game-breaking hooker William Walthall, is equal-fifth with eight, with another Wests excitement machine utility outside back Israel Power and Roos halfback Bailey Robertson.

Main image: Electrifying Wests Panthers fullback Chris Robinson braces for impact in their last clash with Wallaroos on June 3

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