RUGBY LEAGUE: The Yeppoon Seagulls pulled off the three-peat and captain Karl Stevens was sidelined after breaking his foot mid-match - but it wasn't all bad news for the Panthers at last weekend's Schwarz Excavation Nines competition in Rockhampton.
The Biloela side showed flashes of brilliance as they beat Blackwater 24-8 and steamrolled Woorabinda 37-7 to make it into the semi-finals, eventually going down 28-7 to Emu Park in a game where the scoreline did not reflect the tension in the match.
Vice-captain Byron Hassall was a star on the field throughout the tournament, filling in as captain on Saturday and scoring a bevy of tries - including some long-distance beauties - as well as setting up others and constantly backing his teammates.
He was chosen at number 1 in the Schwarz Excavations 1st Division Men's Best 9 side, representing the ideal hybrid team of the carnival.
Biloela's U20s also showed real promise after posting a less-than-ideal win-loss record last year, defeating Fitzroy 20-13 on Saturday and following it up with a 15-11 win over Woorabinda.
Karl Stevens said the addition of Brodie Morris and Dylan Chittick to the side had already proved to be a match-winner.
"They'll be the halves/hooker combo this year so they're taking on a lot more responsibility," Stevens said.
"Having those two young fellas will be a big boost for the 20s this year."
Stevens himself will be out until after the Easter weekend after landing badly on his left foot during the semi-final.
The Panthers will play trial games in Calliope tomorrow against the Valleys Diehards (A Grade and U20s) and Calliope Roosters (Reserve Grade), starting from 3pm.
The A Grade match will serve as a preview of the Panthers' Round 1 home game against Valleys, who are fresh off a big win in Brisbane.