FLASHBACK: May 1971

MAY 1971

Future Sydney premiership winning coach, Warren Ryan scored a try in New South Wales Country’s 11-9 win over Combined Brisbane at Lang Park, Brisbane.

Playing in the centres, Ryan displayed great strength and excellent positional play in a willing encounter, which could have gone either way.

The Country boys, coached by former Australian skipper, Arthur Summons, finished their northern tour undefeated, having beaten North Queensland 13-2 in Townsville and Central Queensland 25-6 at Browne Park, Rockhampton.

The tour began with the Townsville match – at ‘The Reserve’ – with noted referee, Nick Euclid in charge of proceedings.

Man of the Match was Country’s former Test forward, Bill Bradstreet, who played for Manly-Warringah in their loss to Souths in the 1968 Sydney grand final. Bradstreet; John Barber and Keith Finlayson were Country’s try scorers, with Bradstreet kicking two goals.

Future Broncos’ chief executive, Bruno Cullen was part of the North Queensland squad, which would go on to win the State Championship in July, under the coaching of Professor Joe Baker from Townsville.

Bradstreet and brilliant 20-year-old fullback, Ted Goodwin scored two tries each in the win over Central, while Country hooker, Shane Day won the scrums 17-13 against Test rake, Brian Fitzsimmons.

Goodwin, who played for Dapto in the Illawarra competition, was rated a future great by Country manager, Clancy Kingston. St George (Sydney) had signed Goodwin for the 1972 season.

Central fullback, Les Ewing was brilliant in attack, and often brought spectators to their feet, as he cut through the defence. Steve Crear, 18, was not far behind Ewing as the locals’ best player. In the forwards, Russell Vea Vea and Rod Reddy had solid games in defence for Central.

The 11-9 win over Bulimba Cup champions, Brisbane was Country’s most meritorious, with both sets of forwards tearing into each other. Country hooker, Day was sent off by referee, Henry Albert four minutes from the end after a fracas.

Brisbane lost forward, Des Morris in the first half, after he was heavily tackled by John Barber, who would go on to play for Manly, and then Redcliffe in the Brisbane competition.

Morris’s second row partner, Jim Murphy, was outstanding for Brisbane.

Brisbane’s defence was rock solid, but the break came for the visitors when captain, Alan Fitzgibbon kicked clear and Brisbane fullback, Norm Clarke made a rare mistake, dropping the ball, and allowing NSW halfback, Brian Burke to score near the posts.

Burke added the conversion for Country to lead 11-7.

In other news of the time: The QRL, backed by a consortium of businessmen, invited champion English club, Wigan to tour the state in June. English Rugby League’s reputation in Australia was at a high, with Great Britain having won the Test series against Australia and New Zealand in 1970. Wigan declined the request, despite a substantial financial guarantee.

Bill Bradstreet playing for Illawarra against Newcastle

Jim Murphy playing for Queensland against New South Wales.

The 1971 North Queensland side.

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