A 70 metre try by former Wollongong beach sprint champion, Brian Gardiner catapulted South Queensland to a 18-11 win over New South Wales Country in a high quality match at Brisbane’s Lang Park.
It was the first time South Queensland had beaten the NSW Country boys in five encounters, and gave Maroons’ fans renewed hope ahead of the inter-state series.
Sth Qld scored four tries to one, with the Country boys’ scoring their only try in the dying minutes. Country’s Test centre, Mick Cronin landed only four of his eight shots at goal.
Gardiner’s try was a classic. He beat three rivals in a long striding run which brought the crowd of 15,000 to its feet.
Country’s best were Riverina pair, Greg Brentnall (who would go on to play for Australia four years later) and second rower, Steve MacDonald, who shifted to Maryborough in the early 1980s and played for Wide Bay in the State League.
Country, coached by Don Furner, had beaten Central Qld 56-9 and Toowoomba 25-10 in their other tour matches.
The Country squad included two former Wallabies – John Ballesty and Peter Rowles.
In the early match at League HQ, Possibles beat Probables 24-22 in a state trial, although South Queensland players had the inside running for Maroon jerseys, given they were coached by Queensland coach, Barry Muir.
Halfback, Greg Oliphant starred for Possibles, orchestrating a second half comeback after Probables led 17-3.
The Queensland team chosen for Game 1 of the inter-state series was: Ian Pearce (Redcliffe); Brian Gardiner (Red), Harry Cameron (Wests), Tony Obst (Red), John Rhodes (Wynnum-Manly); Allan Smith (Toowoomba), Ross Strudwick (Valleys); Terry Donnelly (Red), Des Morris (Easts), Greg Platz (Allora), David Wright (Brisbane Brothers), John Lang (Easts), Greg Veivers (Souths). Res: Ian Boustead (Wyn), Greg McCarthy (Wests), John Payne (Easts), Rod Morris (Easts).
Gardiner, Cameron, Strudwick, Donnelly, McCarthy and Payne were all originally from NSW.
In Brisbane club football earlier in the month, Brothers outclassed Wynnum 29-7 at Corbett Park, Grange, with Manly’s Test back, Bob Fulton and his wife in the crowd, strengthening rumors he was set to defect from the Sydney competition to play with Brothers.
Fulton told The Courier-Mail’s David Falkenmire he was impressed with Brothers’ set-up, the lavish licensed club, dressing rooms, gym and playing fields beside Kedron Brook.
A friend of Brothers’ former Manly five eighth, Chris Ryan, Fulton said he was serious about a possible switch of cities. (It never happened).
Brothers’ best in the thrashing of Wynnum was tall second rower, Bob Cock, who was given great support by fellow forwards, David Wright, Vince Raleigh and John Short.
I played in the reserve grade pack that day with the likes of Rod Ziebath, Rod Cogill and Greg Jackwitz. Our coach was former Brothers’ halfback, Johnny Smith, who I would later have a lot to do with when he was one of the bosses at QEII Stadium where the Broncos played home matches for a number of years.
Wests’ dual international five eighth, Geoff Richardson suffered a fractured cheekbone in the Panthers’ 24-11 win over Souths in the Saturday Lang Park match.
Powerful young prop, Geoff Naylor scored three tries in Easts’ 36-10 demolition of Norths at Bishop Park.
Valleys beat Redcliffe 23-15 in the Sunday Lang Park match, regaining some face after they were thrashed 36-2 by Riverina a week earlier in the knock-out Amco cup competition.