Sports Talk columnist Vince Habermann covers everything that moves this week, including football finals fever and Isaac Cooper blitzing the pool.
Bundaberg Football finals fever will rise with sudden-death semi-finals in all senior grades and grand finals in all junior age groups at Martens Oval this weekend.
In the Men’s Division tonight, league champions Brothers-Aston Villa (BAV) will meet fourth placed Across The Waves (ATW) at 8pm, after the two United Park Eagles (UPE) teams Black and White battle it out for the other grand final berth at 6pm.
Catch-up Ladies League games were played earlier in the week, and Chenae Watson was a match-winner with a double as Diggers downed ATW United 5-3 on Tuesday, with Karina Pickup scoring all three in a beaten side – her first goals in 17 matches in 2020 – then on Wednesday, ATW Saints and SC Corinthians Lionesses battled out a 2-all draw.
In the Wide Bay Ladies League, champions UPE progress directly to next week’s decider, while Bingera will duel with ATW in the semi-final at 8pm tonight.
In the Bundaberg Ladies League semis tonight at 6pm, top of the table Diggers will be favoured against Bargara, while UPE Black are up against ATW United.
Juniors will be in the spotlight tomorrow morning with the under-12 showdown between two ATW sides Hammers and United at 9am, before ATW Saints meet UPE Black in under-13 at 10am, the under-14 play-off between UPE and ATW Hot Spurs at 10.30am, and an under-16 battle royale featuring ATW Rangers and UPE Black at 11am.
In Wide Bay League 2, the competition’s Leading Goal Scorer Tommy Terlier and Roger Hunter each struck twice as UPE came from behind to claim the championship with a 6-3 victory over Tinana, while ATW were relegated to second with a surprise 3-1 defeat at the hands of United Warriors, both in Maryborough on Wednesday night.
Martens Oval is the venue for their Semi-finals tomorrow, with UPE and Corinthians to take centre-stage at 4.30pm, followed by ATW and KSS Jets at 7pm.
Both WB Premier League semis will also be at Martens Oval, with BAV and ATW to cross swords at 4.30pm, and champions Bingera suiting up against UPE at 7pm.
Bundaberg's Isaac Cooper has won many state and national swimming titles over the years, but the 16-year-old took another giant career step forward by claiming one Australian and four Queensland age records at the recent 2020 Queensland Shortcourse Championships in Brisbane.
Isaac, who is about to finish year 12 at Toowoomba Grammar School, smashed the national Under-16 men’s 50m backstroke record with a time of 24.37sec, shaving .36sec off the mark which had been set by Australian 2019 World Junior Championships representative Alex Quach in 2017, and a whopping .72sec off his PB.
He also posted Queensland records in winning the 100m Individual Medley (56.39sec), 50m freestyle (22.43sec) and 100m backstroke (53.12sec).
Isaac, now competes for the Toowoomba Grammar Club, after proudly representing the Fairymead Club from his learn to swim days through to starting year 11 on the Downs at the beginning of 2019.
For his efforts, Isaac also took out the prestigious Queensland Shortcourse Country Swimmer of the Meet award.
Meanwhile, Fairymead had one medalist at the State Shortcourse, Indi Bland, who also did brilliantly to pick up bronze medal in the 11 years girls 50m backstroke.
Fairymead coach Paul Simms said Indi also did Bundaberg proud at the state titles, while his 19-year-old son Connor Simms, who now swims for the Bond University Club, also performed well throughout in his open men’s division events, including posting a PB 1:49 in the 200m freestyle.
Indi will be among a team of 18 Fairymead Club members who will contest the Hervey Bay Long Course Meet tomorrow.
Paul is expecting big things again from Indi tomorrow and said other stands-outs for the club could include 14-year-olds Taylor Krueger and Olivia Warmington, and 12 years duo Kasey Krueger and Max O’Brien.
It will be another big weekend of cricket in Bundaberg, starting with the Aussie Bundy Big Bash combat between Headlands Pies and Searle’s RV Centre Vikings at Salter Oval at 6.30pm tonight, with the Pies lining up for their first game of the season against a side which upstaged Betta Heat last Friday.
The last two rounds of the Rum City Foods Divisions 1 and 3 T20 competitions will be decided tomorrow, with the unbeaten Waves assured of a place in Sunday’s D1 grand final ahead of their games against Hervey Bay at 10.30am and Brothers at 2pm.
East Bundy Magpies and Brothers will battle it out for the second grand final ticket, and the result of their meeting at 10.30am will be crucial for both sides, with Easts to have the bye in the 2pm time-slot.
If teams finish equal on match points, net run rate will be used to separate them, and currently, Brothers have a healthy advantage over East, 1.0534 to 0.4290.
Three teams will be vying for the two grand final spots in Division 3 T20, Waves and Isis, which are both on 15 points and have only one game each tomorrow, and the Magpies (12), who will play two games.
Isis play Magpies at noon in a virtual semi-final, before the Magpies take flight against the winless YMCA at 3pm, when also Waves are expected to prove too strong for Brothers.
Norths will tussle with Brothers in the D2 T20 grand final after they played out a tie in last season’s decider, but Norths were awarded the trophy as the higher placed team on the ladder.
Junior fixtures also continue tomorrow, and mention must be made of three outstanding performers last week, YMCA duo Joel Faint, who scored 90 from 88 balls, and Karan Singh, who picked up 5-13, in their big win over Hervey Bay Colts in under-16, and Norths Maroons’ Travis Kapernick, who bagged 4-4 to go with his unbeaten 28 in Junior Cricket 2.
Turtles Brothers will be hoping to bounce back from two straight losses and repeated their round one victory over a surging West Barbarians in the fourth round of the Bundaberg Elders Insurance Spring Cup at 7pm tomorrow at the Waves Sports Complex.
Barbarians are on a roll after stopping the Fraser Coast Mariners juggernaut last week after Turtles had been ambushed by RB Renegades.
Earlier tomorrow, the Renegades will be aiming to build on that win when they suit up against the Mariners in the 5pm time-slot.
After a tough road double against Mackay and Rockhampton last weekend, it will be home sweet home for the Bundaberg Bulls and Bears at Autobarn Arena tomorrow at 7pm and 5pm respectively.
But they may need a miracle to stop the highly flying Mackay Meteors and Meteorettes who mauled them on their home court, although Bundy should have full rosters and compete strongly at home after travelling very short.
The Bundy teams will be looking to a big home crowd to get behind them.
The Hervey Bay team, which included five Bundaberg players, performed admirably at the Queensland Open Women’s State Championships in Rockhampton last weekend, winning four of their 10 games, and taking out the President’s Cup.
Chelsea Zunker (Brothers United) were joined by Waves quartet Hannah Leggett, Anna Vicenzotti, Amy Freeman and Kaitlyn O'Leary in the side which was coached and managed by two more Waves club members in Lee-Anne O'Leary and Anna Attard respectively, while Sam Attard was the Bat Boy.
They placed fourth in Pool C after defeating Rockhampton B 7-0, but losing to Caboolture 12-7 and Mackay 10-7, bouncing back to account for Ipswich 10-2, but then succumbing to Mackay 3-2, Caboolture 10-0, Ipswich 15-0, and Rockhampton B 12-11.
But in the President’s Cup play-offs, they overpowered Rockhampton B 15-4, before clinching the silverware with a 6-0 beating of Mackay.
Lee-Anne said Stand-out players were Chelsea (pitcher), Anna (Catcher), Hannah (short stop) and Kaitlyn (second base).
“It was a great achievement for a team who met each other for the first time on Saturday morning – These ladies worked well together to establish a strong infield and all batted at the top of the line up with Kaitlyn and Chelsea scoring five of the six runs in the final against Mackay,” Lee-Anne said.
“Chelsea and Hannah were both recently selected in the U18 Softball Queensland State Squad, while Chelsea has also been named in the U23 Women’s State Squad after the Open Ladies.”
In Association A Grade Ladies fixtures tomorrow, Waves Tsunamis will meet Bargara Bullets at Brothers Sports Club at 2pm, while United Firesticks will journey to Hervey Bay to take on Terrors.
In A Grade Men’s, the unbeaten Waves clash with Bargara Bombers at Brothers at 3.45pm, while at the Bay, United Heat are opposed to Terrors, and Maryborough and Misfits will square off.
Bundaberg Spring Cup action continues at the Super Park tomorrow with the first round of games at 4.30pm.
In Pool A, at 5.30pm, it is Waves Rollers v Natives Eagles, and Natives Swans v Brothers Thunder; at 6.30pm, Alloway Blue v Natives Magpies, and Alloway Red v competition leaders Brothers Hurricanes; and at 7.30pm, Waves Crushers v Alloway Purple, and Fusion Solomons v Waves Breakers.
Recent Bundaberg Greyhound Cup winning trainer Peter O’Reilly, of Yamanto, continued his run of success at Thabeban Park, taking out a treble at this week’s meeting.
He was successful with rank outsider Yogi’s My Dad ($17) in the Mixed 2nd/3rd Grade, and Dark Zorro, a litter brother to his Bundy Cup winner Flying Jet, and Call Me Gibbs, in Fifth Grade Heats.
Two District trainers were also victorious on the program, Phillip Carter with Savoir in the 550m Fifth Grade, and Louise Cameron, who claimed the quinella in the Masters Fifth Grade with Glen Cambla and Richmer Assault.
At the Wondai horse meeting on Saturday, Bundaberg trainer William Melvin was among the winners with his grey mare Reliable Lass in the Class B after she had been unplaced at each of her first five starts for him.
The $15,000 Gympie Cup will be run tomorrow, and Bundaberg will be represented by the Ian Jackson trained Pexbury Avenue, but grand Bouldercombe veteran Fab’s Cowboy looks the one to beat.