Redcliffe rugby league coach, the great Arthur Beetson, used the unlimited tackle rule to his side’s advantage in a 20-13 win over Brothers at Dolphin Oval, and then immediately called for the rule to be scrapped.
“It was ridiculous the way we were able to close the game up in the last five minutes,” Beetson said. “I told my men to ruck the ball and not lose it.”
In fact, they did lose it, near Brothers’ quarter line, but regained it quickly and then worked the ball to score a fourth try.
The unlimited tackle rule, which had been replaced by the four tackle rule in 1967, and then the six tackle rule in 1971, was re-introduced by the Brisbane Rugby league – for the pre-season competition.
The Courier-Mail’s Jack Craig wrote that the Dolphin Oval match, under the unlimited rule, was an entertaining affair and no-one in the record crowd left disappointed.
Beetson’s return to Redcliffe, after 16 seasons in Sydney, was the major selling point. But he did not inject himself into the action until the ninth minute of the third quarter.
Redcliffe’s teamwork and handling was superb for a pre-season match, and a credit to Beetson’s preparation. Australian coach, Frank Stanton had coached Redcliffe in 1980, but was granted an early release from his contract, for personal reasons.
St George (Sydney) signing, Ken Kearney made a promising debut in the halves for Brothers, who were coached by Wayne Bennett.
Norths beat favourites, Souths 17-15 in the 1980 grand final, and the premiers started 1981 with a 15-14 win over Wynnum-Manly at Bishop Park.
Grand final stars, halfback, Ross Henrick and hooker, Greg Conescu, played as if they had not had a break from football, such was their precision with the ball and in defence.
Townsville centre, Gene Miles made his debut for Wynnum, and was embroiled in a major controversy, with ‘Geno’ sent to the bin by referee, Eddie Ward for a late shot on rival centre, Jim Talbot. It was later revealed Talbot had two breaks in the jaw.