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Bundaberg Rugby League Round 11 Preview

After the Wests Panthers had returned to strength with two straight comfortable wins over bottom-placed Easts Magpies and Hervey Bay, their hopes of a top-three finish in the Bundaberg Broadcasters A Grade Premiership were dashed when they were stripped of four competition points by the Bundaberg Rugby League.

Ahead of their return match against the hapless Magpies at 3pm tomorrow at Salter Oval, they are no longer level on points with the Past Brothers on 12 points in third place behind the rampaging Waves Tigers (18) and Wallaroos (14), but now have eight points, six ahead of the Seagulls and Magpies, who have two each.

Coach Corey Tanner said it was a bitter pill to swallow, but they had no choice but to keep winning.

And they should beat Easts again after outclassing them 34-16 on April 20 and 66-10 two weeks ago. Then last week in the Bay they led the Seagulls 36-6 at halftime before the Seagulls were unable to continue as they lost several more players to injury.

“Our best players over the last few games have been Bruce Ikamanu and Paula TuiVailala, along with Marcus Tanner and inspirational leader Dan Tanner,” Corey said.

“We were back on track, but unfortunately, because we had competition points deducted for repeated violations with suspensions, we have now lost ground on the top three – we have been deducted four points.

“But that will not stop us from continuing to play our style of football and the group's acceptance of the 'us against them' mentality will serve as motivation for us to finish the season as high up the rankings as possible.

“But we know we have to keep winning, and that starts this week against East, who will try to try harder against us this week.”

Tanner said they could face Dan's son, Brisbane Broncos sensation Tariq Tanner, again after he played his first game of the season for his family's club last Saturday.

“Dan really enjoys football and is looking forward to playing some more games with his son Tariq, who is currently playing for the Wests for the Wynnum Seagulls,” Tanner said.

It will be difficult for the Panthers to climb back into the top half of the rankings as they will have to play the three teams above them in their remaining four games – Roos, Waves, Brothers – or Roos again.

“We haven't been able to field our best 17 players all year, but every player who has stepped in for us has done a good job and we will prepare our squad for a big finals run,” Tanner said.

“We'll mark down the last three games to play with our full team, starting with Waves, but we'll just take it one week at a time.”

In tomorrow's preliminary match against Waves at 1:15 p.m., the Brothers will look to get their title defense back on track after losing both of their meetings with the Tigers so far this year, including a 28-0 halftime deficit two weeks ago before lightning struck to halt the contest.

Their slim hopes of a championship were all but ended last week when, despite leading 22-10 at halftime, they fumbled their way to a 34-26 loss to the Roos. The Tigers' winning streak then continued and they crushed the Magpies 46-14. Jensen Deamer continued his brilliant form with another hat-trick of tries and fellow centre Layton Chambers also had a great day, scoring 18 points with two tries and five conversions.

The Seagulls have another home game at Stafford Park against the Wallaroos tomorrow at 5pm. They have lost both of their meetings with their Fraser Coast rivals this season, but were very competitive in their losses to them (26-12 and 30-16) and will need to step up their game if they are to turn the tables.