Bundaberg’s Lyal Darby made a great pass to a team-mate in the 47th Battalion Trophy final last Sunday. He will return to his club Isis for their clash with Hervey Bay Seagulls.
Bundaberg’s Lyal Darby made a great pass to a team-mate in the 47th Battalion Trophy final last Sunday. He will return to his club Isis for their clash with Hervey Bay Seagulls. Scottie Simmonds

Injuries weaken league premiers

BROTHERS' depth will be tested when they lock horns with arch-rivals Easts Magpies in the fifth round of the 4BU/Hitz FM A-Grade Premiership at Salter Oval tomorrow.

The Brethren are unbeaten in four starts in their title defence, and they overwhelmed the Magpies 56-24 to start the new season on March 26.

But coach Dean Akers said they would be without Barry Blackman and Jesse Tasse due to injuries, Matt Hall (work), and Boe Zimmerlie with other commitments.

Also, captain and front-rower Cameron Ricciardi and workaholic second-rower Aaron Hall are both uncertain starters after picking up injuries while playing for Bundaberg in the 47th Battalion Carnival triumph last weekend.

“But we've still got the nucleus of the side, including centres Matt Templeman and Shaun Collins, who were absolutely fantastic for Bundaberg and are very exciting to watch,” Akers said.

“Also, Matt Craven was on the bench the first couple of games but he has played the last couple at seven and gone well because he's versatile and can slot into any position in the backline.

“Against Isis and Hervey Bay he started the game and went real well, and he's got his chance again.

“Also, Tien Nguyen is back from a hand injury at fullback and he's been good, and we've got Dave Bewick to come in at hooker. We're very happy to have him and he won't let us down.”

The Magpies' only two wins this campaign have been against Across The Waves (ATW), including a 48-32 result at their last outing three weeks ago.

With their representative stars, player/co-coach Josh Essex, AJ Evans and Aaron Watson still on a high after their heroics for Bundaberg, they are determined to turn the tables on Brothers and Akers is expecting them to serve it up to his team.

“Any Brothers-Easts game is always very competitive. They've been rivals for a long time and I know it will be no different to any time previously. We'll have to been on our game to get the points against Maggies,” he said.

In the match of the night, Wests Panthers will be favoured to go on their winning ways against ATW, which is the only team yet to post a win in the division this season.

The Panthers kicked off the season with a 48-32 victory over Waves, and they have gone from strength to strength since.

While Waves' attack has received a pass mark, averaging 24.5 points per game, their defence has been their Achilles heel. They have by far the worst defensive record in the league, conceding 176 points in four games.

There will be plenty of spice when Hervey Bay Seagulls host Isis Devils at Stafford Park.

The Devils started with a 38-24 despatch of the Seagulls, but they have suffered three straight losses since, while the Seagulls have also won only one game.

Hervey Bay product Tyrone Hopgood, who took the Player of the 47th Battalion Carnival award, will return home to play against his former team for the first time since joining the Devils in the off-season, and he is certain to receive a cold reception.



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