GOLD Coast Giants halfback, Geoff Bagnall was sent off by Test referee, Eddie Ward just two minutes into his club’s home encounter with South Sydney at Seagulls Stadium, West Tweed Heads.
Bagnall, who had never previously been sent off in 16 years of football, was later suspended for one week for a high tackle on Souths’ winger, Adam O’Neill, the son of former Test cricketer, Norm O’Neill.
Bagnall said he had slipped in the mud, trying to tackle O’Neill, while coach, Bob McCarthy struggled to control his anger, saying he had seen players sin binned for worse offences.
Without Bagnall, Seagulls put up a brave show, before succumbing to the Rabbitohs 28-16 with fullback, Phil Blake scoring two tries for the victors.
Best for Souths were forwards, Les Davidson and David Boyle, while Jim Cowell and Billy Johnstone were outstanding in the middle for Gold Coast. The Giants’ players’ player award went to centre, Scott Mieni.
In Newcastle, there was a crowd of 30,220 for the Knights’ match against Brisbane Broncos, a match played in wet and windy conditions.
Test skipper, Wally Lewis was outstanding for Brisbane, playing at five eighth, while the Broncos’ Test prop, Greg Dowling was magnificent in the heavy going. Lewis faced post match scrutiny, with suggestions he had manhandled referee, Greg McCallum. The accusations was that Lewis pulled McCallum’s jersey, after the Knights were awarded their second try. Sydney radio commentator, Ray Hadley said NSWRL boss, John Quayle had to act immediately, because of a newspaper photograph which ‘caught’ the incident.
“Now he’s starting to grab referees,” Hadley said. “The only other sport in the world which will tolerate that sort of thing is rock and roll wrestling. The last time a competitor touched a referee was when Killer Karl Kox grabbed Wallaby Bob McMaster in 1968. Now Wally’s produced the same behavior.” Lewis said his approach to McCallum, was not dissent. In fact, he was trying to draw attention to injured teammate, Joe Kilroy.
“I still don’t reckon I touched him (McCallum),” Lewis told The Courier-Mail.
Quayle said McCallum assured him Lewis had not pulled his jersey.
Bennett said it was a case of the Sydney media targeting the Broncos.
“Anything adverse is coming from the media,” Bennett said. “Generally, we have been fairly well received by the crowds, away.”
At Brookvale Oval, Mackay product, Owen Cunningham played his 100th match for Manly and was the Sea Eagles’ best in a 26-6 win over Wests. Des Hasler scored two tries for Manly.
Photo: Geoff Bagnall (back left) with trainer, Dave Ryan and Trevor Gillmeister.