Norths’ Test prop, Greg Dowling hit back at criticism of his club form with a barnstorming display, as the Devils beat his old cub, Wynnum-Manly 22-12 in the Brisbane Woolworths Trophy final at Lang Park.
It was Norths’ first piece of silverware in seven years, with Dowling among the try scorers in a convincing victory.
Dowling, who had played State of Origin for Queensland that year, as well as the one-off Trans-Tasman Test, was under fire for his club form, with one newspaper report suggesting he was destined for reserve grade.
Norths’ coach, Greg Oliphant didn’t exactly rubbish those suggestions.
“‘GD’ (Dowling) put his hand up today to say he was still alive as a top forward,” Oliphant said. “He probably realises the only way he can answer that sort of thing, is on the field.”
Ably supported by former Test forward, Paul McCabe and diminutive lock, Kieran Jackson, Dowling spearheaded a dominant Norths’ pack. Winger, Guy ‘Slug’ Harvey, rated the BRL’s best kicker, landed five goals.
Norths’ preparation for the match included a guest appearance at training by master coach, Bob Bax, who, during his time in charge at the Devils, won nine premierships.
Wynnum halfback, Peter Dawes, aggravated a shoulder injury and was ruled out for the remainder of the season.
Wynnum were without captain-coach, Wally Lewis (knee) who was confined to the grandstand, where he was seen smoking and shaking his head at the high error rate from his side.
Redcliffe lock, Steve Bleakley was sent off for the first time in his career in the Dolphins’ 31-28 win over Valleys at Dolphin Oval. Referee, Reg Banush charged Bleakley with attacking the head of an opponent. Bleakley looked stunned as he left the field, and was later exonerated by the judiciary. Redcliffe five eighth, Trevor Benson finished with a personal haul of 18 points from a try and seven goals.
Winger, Bennett King, who would go on to coach the West Indies in cricket, scored two tries for Valleys.
Ipswich winger, Errol Hunter scored 18 points (two tries five goals) in the Jets’ 42-20 thrashing of Easts at North Ipswich Reserve, while halfback, Tony Blanco also grabbed a brace of tries.
But the star of the match was Ipswich’s former Easts’ lower grade second rower, Brett Kaatz. Easts’ coach, Shane McNally thought Kaatz was going to sit out the year because of a back injury.
In the other match, Brothers firmed as premiership favorites after they easily accounted for Souths 24-0 at Corbett Park, Grange. Fullback, Clinton Mohr scored two tries and showed blistering pace. Brothers’ man of the match was prop, Jim Stafford, who had signed with Parramatta for the 1988-89 seasons.
Meanwhile, Broncos’ chief executive, John Ribot was going about the business of signing players for the club’s inaugural season (1988) in the New South Wales Rugby League Winfield Cup, with Newcastle Knights and Gold Coast Giants (based at Tweed Heads) also accepted into a competition which had expanded into Queensland for the first time, after Illawarra Steelers and Canberra Raiders were admitted in 1982.
Ribot announced he had withdrawn offers to Redcliffe backs, Robin Thorne and James Sandy, after they failed to sign contracts before a deadline he had imposed.
Mt Isa fullback, Shane Duffy had agreed to terms, making him the 26th player signed by Ribot, who tipped the North Qld rep. to put pressure on the club’s number one fullback, Test star Colin Scott from Wynnum-Manly.
The Broncos had appointed Richard Winten as marketing manager and he tipped a huge future for the club.
“This organisation, because it is a private franchise working on the main winter sport in Queensland, can be the biggest sporting project in Australian history,” Winten said. “The Broncos are not transferring a team, like South Melbourne (Aussie rules) to Sydney, and represent a demographic base of 1.5 millon people. The Sydney Swans didn’t have the local heroes this team has.”
Meanwhile, Tweed Heads based Gold Coast Giants signed City Seconds representative winger, Paul Sheahan from Sydney Wests.