By Vince Habermann
Layton Chambers amassed 20 points with two tries and six conversions while his fellow centre of excellence Jensen Deamer also bagged a double as Waves Tigers roared to take the outright lead on the Bundaberg Broadcasters A Grade Premiership table.
The Tigers put in a 48-10 mauling of the Hervey Bay Seagulls in their Round 12 showdown at Salter Oval on Saturday.
The two teams went into combat as joint leaders but it quickly became a mismatch.
The Tigers backs dazzled – fullback Cody Maughan, wingers Batick Nally – a Fijian A Grade debutant who was called up from reserve grade as a late replacement for Lachlan Dullaway – and Sam Tobin, and five-eighth Brad Clarke, in just his fourth game for the club.
With four rounds to go the Tigers have moved to 17 points, with the Seagulls remaining on 15.
But depending on whether they can bounce back from the shock thrashing, the battle for the minor premiership could go right down to the wire as the duo will meet again in a rescheduled Round 6 game in Hervey Bay on July 23 to complete the fixture rounds.
Meanwhile, Wests Panthers surrendered outright third place when they were joined on 11 points by two-time defending champions Past Brothers, who edged them out 28-26 in the match that followed, with the boot of the returning Zak Bainbridge a match winner, kicking four goals to the Panthers’ three.
At Eskdale Park Maryborough, Easts Magpies’ woes continued, being held to a 14-all draw by cellar dwellers Wallaroos.
The one point for the draw was enough to take their overall points to eight, consolidating their fifth place and the last spot in the finals, with Roos on four points.
Waves coach Antonio Kaufusi, who missed the game as he was on his way to Mackay in his capacity as Shalom College Girls coach for the Queensland Independent Secondary Schools Confraternity Carnival, was surprised by the blow-out, but he said they had been building nicely and training superbly, and a performance of such magnitude had been coming.
Cody Maughan, who formerly starred for North Queensland Cowboys in the National Youth League, Sam Tobin – their usual interchange hooker who moved into a position foreign to him when Delai Moto was ruled out – and powerhouse second rower Lachlan Patterson were among their best, but every player had aimed up in a robust team performance.
Kaufusi said however they will need to continue to improve if they are secure top spot and challenge for their first title since 2018.
For Brothers, halfback Bryden Blair – a Wests junior who joined Brothers this season to play alongside his elder brother, rampaging second rower Royce – was awarded the Railway Hotel Player of the Round after grabbing two tries in a polished all-round performance, doubling up from also notching a double in their 24-16 dispatch of the Panthers in Under 18.
In the absence of their inspirational captain and lock Kevin Sherriff, the Blue and Whites also had two other players backing up from the under 18s, starting second rower Brad Shorter, and Eden Hess, a 17-year-old younger brother to North Queensland Cowboys star Coen, who also did a great job off the bench.
Their coach Andrew Filo also stepped up from reserve grade to fill in with aplomb at five-eighth.
Marcus Tanner, who has been playing for the under 20 Central Queensland Capras this season, made a welcome return to his home club Wests at fullback, and he also chalked up two tries in a signature showing, while second rower Bruce Ikamanu continued his outstanding season with two tries and two conversions in another classy display, but the Panthers fell agonizingly short.
WAVES TIGERS 48 (Jensen Deamer 2, Layton Chambers 2, Cody Maughan, Batick Nally, Sam Tobin, Brad Clarke, Lachlan Patterson tries; Layton Chambers 6 goals) def HERVEY BAY SEAGULLS 10 (Jeremiah Pati, Chase Sutton tries; Ben Hudson goal).
PAST BROTHERS 28 (Bryden Blair 2, Tyrell Priestley, Connor Jones, Tom Kronk tries; Zak Bainbridge 4 goals) def WESTS PANTHERS 26 (Marcus Tanner 2, Bruce Ikamanu 2, Zander Kerr tries; Bruce Ikamanu 2, Zander Kerr goals).
WALLAROOS 14 drew EASTS MAGPIES 14.