ON THE RUN: The Waves coach and former NRL player Antonio Kaufusi runs towards the Wallaroos defence at Eskdale Park.
ON THE RUN: The Waves coach and former NRL player Antonio Kaufusi runs towards the Wallaroos defence at Eskdale Park. Matthew McInerney

TIGERS FALL AS ROOS CLAIM TITLE: But Kaufusi plays

LEAGUE: The minor premiership might be heading south but one side is confident the Bundaberg Rugby League A-grade title is staying in Bundy.

Maryborough's Wallaroos claimed the crown on Saturday, beating The Waves Tigers 24-12 at Eskdale Park to have an insurmountable lead at the top.

The side's win, combined with Wests beating third place Isis, handed the Heritage City team the title.

But the Roos' success and win doesn't worry The Waves.

"I'm still confident we'll be competitive heading into the semis," The Waves assistant coach Ash Simpson said.

"We've still got a few games to come back.

"Our goal is to hopefully get those guys that are missing back on the paddock by the time finals start."

The Waves had Clinton Horne and Tyrrell Howard return to action after missing last week's loss to Isis.

But the team was still missing over half a dozen others, which forced super sub and coach Antonio Kaufusi to don the boots.

The former NRL and Super League player played his third game of the year to qualify him for the finals.

"We lost five players on Saturday morning, all were called into work," Simpson revealed.

"We were always looking to play Antonio but we were going to give him an extra week off to rest his calf.

"But he's coming good now, he got through the game and he's a great leader for the team.

"We also had Blake Williams, our under-18 player, travel down to Maryborough after playing earlier in the day in Bundy."

Kaufusi's presence almost delivered the Tigers the win.

The side was 14-12 down with 10 minutes to go and pressing for victory with just 15 players in the match.

The Wallaroos, with two late tries including an 80-metre try to Shaun Collins, ended those chances.

Simpson said the side performed well to get that close.

"I was proud of the side," he said.

"I'm confident you couldn't see a prouder guy at Eskdale Park after the game."

Simpson revealed the loss could be a stepping stone for the club in dealing with players that are unavailable.

"It could be the game the whole side needed," he said.

"We know we now can competitive and get the job done against most teams."

Wallaroos coach Peter Waters was happy to claim the title but conceded the side had unfinished business.

The side lost in last year's grand final to Past Brothers.

"I'm pumped for the boys but I'm just the mouldy old coach on the sideline," he said.

"It is a big pat on the back, but we're not finished. Hervey Bay was the minor premier last year and didn't play in the grand final. If we don't make the final, I see it as a fail."

The Wallaroos face the defending premiers this Saturday with The Waves taking on Maryborough Brothers.



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