FLASHBACK JUNE 1978
Former Test halfback, Dennis Ward made a remarkable comeback to rugby league when he led Wynnum-Manly to a 23-14 win over Brisbane premiers, Easts at Kougari Oval.
Ward, Wynnum’s coach, elected to play to help the club in an injury crisis. It was his first match in over a year.
Just five minutes into the game he made a break from the base of a scrum and put centre, Wayne Bullock over for a try. Ten minutes later, Ward grubber kicked, regathered the ball and scored himself.
And he made the Seagulls’ third try when he forced Easts’ halfback, Brad Sully to fumble the ball at the base of a scrum near his own line and Wynnum’s Kerry Page swooped.
Ward also had a strong defensive game and was given great support by forwards, John Dowling, Rod Coggill and Glen Hoppner.
Easts were without their state representatives, Rod Morris, Wayne Lindenberg and John Lang, with the Maroons in camp under coach, Barry Muir. The Tigers also lost captain, Des Morris, early in the match, to a head knock. To make matters worse, Easts’ forward, John Abbott got his marching orders from referee, Ian Smith, after an all-in-brawl.
Redcliffe retained joint leadership of the premiership ladder with Wests, after a 25-10 win over Souths at Davies Park, with centre, Peter Leis scoring two tries. Souths’ fielded a makeshift pack because of injuries and rep commitments, and unheralded forwards, Kevin Ballinger and Mal Connell lost nothing in comparison with their Dolphins’ rivals.
Wests made it four wins on the trot when they easily accounted for a young Brothers’ side 32-8 at Lang Park.
Brothers had their moments, with halves, Terry Butler and Billy Johnston providing some of the highlights, while lightweight lock, Rod Ziebath tackled himself into the ground. And they played 38 minutes with 12 men after second rower, Harvey Carter, a dentist, was sent off for punching.
(Three days later, Wests were beaten 28-0 by Parramatta in a third round Amco Cup match at Leichhardt Oval in Sydney, with Eels’ lock, Ray Price the man of the match. Best for Wests were Greg McCarthy, Wayne Carr and Paul Vautin).
In the other match of the BRL round, Valleys beat Norths 15-9 in a scrappy affair at Bishop Park. Norths’ hooker, Ian Watson won the scrums 19-5 from Diehards’ makeshift rake, Tom Duggan. But the Devils scored only one try – by fullback, Peter Dutton, who was also a star baseballer.
Valleys’ star was five eighth, Peter McWhirter who gave great service to blockbusting centre, Brian ‘Yogi’ Dunn, another baseball star. (Dutton and Dunn would finish up teammates in Norths’ 1980 premiership winning side).
Photo: Des Morris.