Centre, Brian Adams scored a last minute try to give Queensland a courageous 19-18 win over New South Wales Country in front of a hostile crowd at the Newcastle International Sports Centre.
It was the final match of Queensland’s New South Wales’ tour, with the Maroons having been beaten 17-15 in the final inter-state match of the year in Sydney, followed by a 20-11 win over Monaro Division at Queanbeyan.
The Country game was always going to be something of an ambush, with bush football in NSW so strong in those days, and Country officials hoping a win would give them more bargaining power at national level.
I can tell you, from first hand knowledge, that NSW country officials, and many players, rated Newcastle club football ahead of Brisbane, and also looked down their nose at Queensland football in general.
So it was just as well Queensland won, but they did it the hard way, even though hooker, Brian Fitzsimmons won the scrums 14-6.
Queensland skipper, Ray Laird was an inspirational figure at fullback, driving his team, just as Billy Slater does today.
Prop, Joe Vasta and second rower, Jim Murphy were Queensland’s best forwards, while halfback, Lee Hutchinson gave his backs every chance.
Country’s best was fullback, Ted Goodwin, who scored two tries and set up Country’s other try. Goodwin, who was playing club football on the NSW South Coast, had signed for Sydney club, St George for the 1972 season.
Queensland’s try scorers were centre, Ron Beauchamp; lock, Col Weiss; Hutchinson and Murphy, with Murphy’s try and Wayne Stewart’s conversion making the score 16-16 with 10 minutes left.
Five minutes from the end, halfback, Brian Burke put Country in front 18-16, following a scrum penalty awarded by referee, Tom Gustard.
With fans telling the Maroons to ‘stick a pineapple up your arse’, all hope seemed lost for Queensland. But Adams scored after a skilful short passing rush. Adams had only been on the field for four minutes, after replacing the injured Max Anderson, who had scored two tries in the win over Monaro.
Stewart, who would play for Australia the following year, missed the conversion to finish with only three goals from eight shots.
Queensland coach, Bob Bax said poor goal kicking had cost Queensland dearly in the inter-state series and he believed the time had come to pick a specialist goal kicker, even if he wasn’t the best player in his position.
Bax said Stewart and fellow winger, Wayne Bennett had both excelled in general play.
Superior condition was the difference in the Country game, according to Bax, who gave credit to the intensive training camp set up by the QRL early in the year.