FLASHBACK: MAY 1980

COACHED by former Test halfback, Barry Muir, Queensland Country put up a brave showing against City at Lang Park, and won six places in the State side to face New South Wales.
City winger, Brad Backer (originally from Maryborough) scored four of his side’s five tries in the 21-17 win, after the bush boys led 17-13 at halftime.
Muir was highly critical of referee, Joe Ticehurst from the Gold Coast, saying he had never seen a worse display from a whistle blower, which is saying something considering the running battle Barry had with the men in the middle over the years.
Country had beaten Warwick District 36-3 in a warm up match with Country centres, Tony Dean (Gold Coast) and Tony Byrne (Bundaberg) scoring two tries each.

The City – Country match never reached any great heights, and obviously confused the State selectors, who came up with several shock decisions, most notably:
– The naming of Townsville product, Colin Scott as fullback from Easts reserve grade;
– The bypassing of specialist halves, Ross Strudwick (City) and Noel Balderson (Country), with Country’s Toowoomba lock, Trevor Dunemann named to wear the number 7 jersey;
– Country forward, Max Churchill’s selection on the bench, after he failed to get a run against City.
Brisbane Wests stalwart, Norm Carr was a popular selection as lock and skipper, with Valleys’ sensation, Wally Lewis not considered after he was admitted to Brisbane’s Mater Hospital complaining of dizzy spells, after he took a heavy knock playing against Wynnum-Manly at Neumann Oval the previous weekend.
Lewis was hit late by Wynnum’s Bill Smythe two minutes from halftime, and referee, Eddie Ward had no hesitation sending the Seagulls’ forward from the field.
On the same weekend, State hooker, Jay Hoffman scored the decisive try in Brothers’ 10-9 win over Norths at Bishop Park, but struggled in the scrums, with Devils’ youngster, Greg Conescu finishing with an 11-4 advantage.
A 45 metre intercept try by Souths’ captain, Bruce Astill laid the foundation for the Magpies’ 14-14 draw with Redcliffe at Lang Park.

Brad Backer in action for Easts

Brad Backer in action for Easts

But it was rival centre, Chris Close who had the crowd buzzing, with his explosive strength proving too much for the defence on many occasions.
In the other match of the round, Easts thrashed Wests 43-5 at Purtell Park.

The New South Wales Country team warmed up for its match against City with a 17-3 win over Far North Coast at Seagulls Oval, Tweed Heads.
In the Tooth Cup knock-out competition, Western Suburbs from Sydney beat Auckland 40-14 at Leichhardt Oval, with Wests’ winger, John Ribot named man of the match after scoring four tries. Ron Giteau, the father of Wallaby, Matt Giteau, finished with 19 points from a try and eight goals. Auckland had led 14-12 at halftime.
The Queensland team to play NSW in Game 1 of the 1980 series was:
Colin Scott (Bris Easts); Brad Backer (Easts), Chris Close (Redcliffe), Mal Meninga (Souths), Mick Neill (Valleys); Peter McWhirter (Valleys), Trevor Dunemann (Toowoomba); Norm Carr (Wests) (c), Con Marrinan (Rockhampton), Greg Dowling (Innisfail), Geoff Naylor (Easts), Jay Hoffman (Brothers), George Radek (Mt Isa). Res.: Alan Power (Easts), Ross Henrick (Norths), Max Churchill (Mackay), Willie Tarry (Emerald). Coach, John McDonald, (Toowoomba).
<Pic> Brad Backer in action for Easts.

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