Photo: Bundaberg-born Ian Prior in action for the Western Force.
Friday night's Super Rugby showdown between Queensland Reds and Western Force at Lang Park will feature a duel between two Bundaberg born scrum-halves in Tate McDermott and Ian Prior.
The Reds have made a good start to the revamped season with a drought-breaking victory over NSW Waratahs, then snatching a last-gasp 18-all draw with Melbourne Rebels before neither side was able to break the deadlock in golden point extra-time.
The Force were kicked out of the SR competition after the 2017 season but were readmitted to the new Super Rugby AU after the full-on 2020 SR Series was cancelled as a result of Covid-19.
After having the first-round bye, they led before being very good in a 23-14 loss at the hands of the Waratahs last Saturday night when Ian kicked three penalties.
Tate’s parents Tony and Lexi lived in Bundaberg for a few years in the 1990s during which time his Dad won a rugby premiership with the Bundaberg Turtles.
But Tate, who will turn 22 on September 18, said he has no memories of the city after moving away as a toddler.
“Mum was a teacher in Bundy and Dad worked for Bundaberg Sugar but he got work in Indonesia so we moved there when I was one or two,” he said.
“I broke my leg in a baby accident so we moved back but settled on the Sunny Coast, where I did all my schooling.”
Tate said he has only returned to the Rum City twice, firstly when he attended a Sunshine Coast Grammar Under-15 Camp at Bargara, then when he was part of a Reds School Rugby Clinic late last year.
He was excited to learn that there is another current SR halfback born in Bundaberg, and he is looking forward to tonight’s big duel.
“Yeah mate, it will be a cracker of a match,” he said.
“They are definitely a lot better than people think they are, and it will definitely be a tight contest, but we are up for it.”
Ian, who will turn 30 on August 21, started his top-flight career with the Reds before having stints with the ACT Brumbies from 2012-13 and the Force from 2014-17.
He then had a short stint with Harlequins in the English RU, then playing the last two seasons for the Force in the National Rugby Competition.
Force captain Ian said he has “no memories” of Bundaberg after leaving the region at the age of three but that he and his parents Ivor and Caroline have always had a real affinity for the region.
“Mum and Dad migrated from Zimbabwe and Dad worked in the agricultural industry for Incitec and lived across from the golf course,” he said.
“They loved the town and have fond memories.
“Their first child was born there but Mum wanted to be closer to family so they moved back to Zimbabwe when I was three even though Dad never wanted to leave.
“We moved back to Australia in 2000 and settled at Redlands Bay but I always look back fondly at the family photo album from our time in Bundaberg.”
Ian is confident they will improve on their first-up performance and are a real chance of upsetting the Reds.
“We made a good start last week and applied a lot of pressure but released the pressure valve with some basic errors,” he said.
“We will have to be better but there are a lot of ex-Queenslanders in our team and they are fired up.
“The Reds have also got a talented team but we are excited to play them at Suncorp and hopefully we can come away with a win.”
Eagles to fly high against Bombers
ACROSS The Waves Eagles laid claim to favouritism for the AFL Wide Bay Senior Flag with a 123-39 demolition of cross-town rivals Brothers Bulldogs in their first round clash on Saturday.
The Eagles were ruthless with all of their big guns firing and they took total control with a nine-goal second quarter and never relented.
Reigning premiers Bay Power outgunned their city cousins Hervey Bay Bombers 59-38 in a very competitive match.
The Eagles will travel south to meet the Bombers tomorrow while the Bulldogs will lick their wounds before aiming up against Power at 2pm at The Kennel.
Father-son clash in men's hockey
In hockey, Waves Cities threw down the gauntlet for the Bundaberg senior double with both their teams overpowering All Blacks, with doubles to Lachlan McLennan, whose father Peter was a champion player for the club over many years, and State representative Ryley Stevens spearheading their men to 7-2 victory, and Sarah Pohmann bagging a hat-trick as their women triumphed 6-0.
The newly merged Raiders/Rovers also claimed the double at Arrows/Athletics’ expense with their men getting home 2-1 and women triumphing 4-0 on the back of an Olivia Wightman double.
Two hat-tricks were achieved in the junior divisions, by Jesse Beveridge, who powered Arrows to a 7-2 victory over All Blacks in Under-16, and Tully Dorgan, who led the charge as Arrows were on target in an 8-1 dispatch of All Blacks in Under-11.
It was great to see some prominent hockey family names featuring among the junior results, such as Aitkenhead, Castelli, Stehbens, Green and Cook.
Siblings Connor and Sophie Castelli, whose father Anthony played out a distinguished career with Cities, both scored as the Blues prevailed 7-2 over the Blacks in Under-13, with Connor striking twice to take his tally to three for the day after also goaling as they downed Raiders/Rovers 3-0 in Under-11.
Tomorrow’s senior games will feature showdowns between last week’s two winning clubs, Raiders/Rovers and Waves Cities with the men at 2.15pm and women to follow at 4pm.
Arrows/Athletics and All Blacks will then step up to the plate with the men at 5.45pm and women at 7.30pm.
The Raiders/Rovers-Cities men’s clash will feature a showdown between Ryley Stevens and his father Brendan, who scored a goal in the Composite side’s win over Arrows last week.
Football resumes this weekend
Football Bundaberg fixtures will resume at Martens Oval this weekend with men’s and women's League games from 6pm tonight, and Wide Bay League and all juniors tomorrow.
There are four women's games at 6pm today (Friday): ATW United v Bargara, Bingera v SC Corinthians Gladiators, UPE Black v ATW Saints and ATW v Bingera Cutters; with the UPE v Diggers showdown at 8pm.
Saturday's Wide Bay Premier League matches are all scheduled for 7pm – three at Martens Oval: ATW v Diggers, UPE v Doon Villa and Bingera v Brothers-Aston Villa; while Bargara will venture to Hervey Bay to cross swords with KSS Jets, and Granville will host Sunbury in the Maryborough local derby at Canning Park.
Touch back on Tuesday
Bundaberg Touch Association fixtures will resume at Greg Duncan Field this Tuesday night, while Brothers Social Touch will hold a sign-on from 6pm this Monday at Brothers Sports Club for their new season which they plan to start one week later.