Brothers power into grand final
RUGBY LEAGUE: The writing was on the wall when Brothers scored in the first minute of their 4BU/Hitz FM A Grade Premiership major semi-final clash with Easts Magpies.
The Magpies received the ball from the kick-off but they knocked on in a driving first tackle, and the Brethren capitalised, with five-eighth Lewis Williams scoring virtually untouched from the ensuing scrum win.
They went on to open up a 22-0 lead, before Easts opened their account with a good try to winger Reece Maughan three minutes before the break.
Brothers were nowhere near as good in the second half but they were always in control, going on to a 42-16 victory, with lock Tien Nguyen, powerhouse second rower Lopeti Ahouvelo and newly crowned Bundaberg A Grade Player of the Year Shaun Collins all bagging doubles.
The Magpies will get a second chance in the preliminary final against Hervey Bay Seagulls, who staved off Wests 26-22 in extra-time in the minor semi-final after scores had been locked together at 22-all at full time.
Brothers coach Dean Akers said despite “falling away a bit in the second half”, he was very happy with their performance especially considering it was their first match in three weeks.
“We talked about how we had to compete and the boys came ready to play – their line-speed and enthusiasm in the first half really set the platform,” Akers said.
“Lopeti was great, Mat Templeman was brilliant at the back, Barry Blackman was solid, and so were LJ (Williams), Matty Hall, Shaun Collins and Cameron Ricciardi, but everyone did their job and it was a good team effort.
“Aaron Hall was also outstanding in just his second game back from his stint overseas, including topping the tackle-count with 32.
“We talked about setting personal standards and we nearly got to the standard which we wanted and we started to gel as a side – at times we have been very individual throughout the year but we are now starting to work together as a unit, which is what we need.”
Victory came at a cost with hooker Jesse Tass, Ahouvelo and Robert Hughes, in his return from injury off the interchange bench, all suffering serious injuries, but with two weeks before the grand final, Akers expects all of them to play.
Meanwhile, Seagulls led Wests 18-6 at half-time after halfback Kerryn Blake scored twice while his opposite Josh Tanner was in the sin-bin.
The Panthers got back to within six points with a converted try in the 49th minute, but after Seagulls skipper Clinton Horne kicked two penalties, they led 22-12 until Wests fullback Jared Tanner scored and his brother Josh converted in the 69th minute.
The last 10 minutes was a mistake-athon but after having two tries disallowed for forward passes and after Blake had been sin-binned a minute earlier, winger Kane Chapman levelled the scores for the Panthers with a try in the left corner.
Josh Tanner had the chance to win the match with a tough side-line conversion attempt after the siren, but it was waved away.
Horne broke the dead-lock with a superb try three minutes into the first 10-minute half of extra-time, receiving the ball on the half-way line, beating two defenders and going all the way, but he missed the conversion and a long-range penalty kick after the siren.
Neither side was able to score again as players battled fatigue in the last 15 minutes.
But Wests had one last shot at a try, attacking the line and creating an overlap in the dying seconds of extra-time, but the Bay were able to knock the pass down and the ball away and hang on by the skin of their teeth.