Sport

Wallaroos win fiery affair against Seagulls

IT WAS Old Boys Day at Eskdale Park on Saturday, but anyone there would have been forgiven for thinking they were still living in the past as the Bundaberg Rugby League clash took a back seat to a wild brawl in the second half.

In what felt like a throwback to the old days with flying fists, several haymakers and send offs, the Maryborough Wallaroos validated their premiership credentials with a 44-28 victory over the Hervey Bay Seagulls to maintain their unbeaten year on home soil.

Tensions boiled over in the 64th minute with an all-in brawl marring the local derby.

It started when Seagulls winger Billy Stefaniuk took exception to being slung to the ground well after play had stopped and reacted by landing a solid punch on Wallaroos halfback Gibson Gela in the throat or neck.

Stefaniuk soon became a marked man as about half a dozen Wallaroos players came screaming in and chased him down the sideline before players from both sides eventually became tangled in the scuffle.

When the dust settled, Stefaniuk was sent off, while Wallaroos centre Sam Hutchins was also sent for an early shower and Gibson's brother Roderique was sin-binned for his involvement.

But there's no doubt the entire incident, which was described by some onlookers as a good old-fashioned stink, will be closely reviewed by the match review panel and judiciary officer during the week.

While his focus was firmly on the result rather than the fight, when asked about the brawl Wallaroos skipper Mark Berkery, 26, said: "Once one of your boys get belted, you have to look after your family and that's what we did."

On the field, the Wallaroos were far too composed in a highly entertaining game that produced 13 tries.

The scores were level at half-time, but the Wallaroos broke open the game in the second half scoring three tries in eight minutes after the break to lead 28-12.

The Seagulls hit back through TJ Horne and Alex Braun to cut the margin to four before the outbreak of fisticuffs interrupted the match for about 10 minutes.

Despite having an extra man, the brawl cruelled the Seagulls' momentum as Wallaroos winger Luke Waters dived over from dummy half to score just two plays after the fray.

Further tries to Berkery and Gibson saw the Wallaroos home as they celebrated their first win against the Seagulls since 2009.

It was a tough lesson to learn for Hervey Bay, which drop out of the top-five after Easts Magpies upset Past Brothers yesterday, while the Wallaroos would have walked away confident they can give the premiership a shake.

"I'm proud of the boys," Berkery said after the win.

"They had us there for a bit and some stuff happened in the game, but I was happy we could grind out a win and get the points."