John Salter emerged as a future State halfback after his magnificent performances for Souths in the big, end-of-season games in the Brisbane Rugby League premiership.
Salter, a former schoolboy rugby union star, was the most penetrative back on the field in Souths’ 11-5 loss to premiers, Wests in the second knock-out semi-final of the 1976 season.
He repeatedly evaded two or three tacklers, but seldom had a teammate fast enough, or forward-thinking enough, to get up in support.
Salter took a battering from the Wests’ forwards, and one tackle from lock, John Ribot, left him badly shaken. But Salter did not shirk his duties, and repeatedly set-up attacking movements, only for Wests’ defence to hold.
Both sides scored only one try, with centre, Bruce Astill crossing for the Magpies. The difference came from the boot of Wests’ Test winger, Wayne Stewart, who landed four goals from as many shots, and also scored the Panthers’ try. Souths’ winger, Tom Gillogly landed only one goal from five shots.
Stewart’s try followed a clever break from dual international five eighth, Geoff Richardson, which was carried on by a great burst by Max Williamson, who threw a long pass to Stewart, who did the rest.
Souths’ best forward was Test prop, Greg Veivers.
Easts progressed straight to the grand final with a 13-3 win over Brothers in the major semi-final, another tough tackling affair.
Brothers’ forwards were run off their feet by Easts’ domination of possession, and when Brothers’ big men had the ball, they could not penetrate. It wasn’t until indigenous forward, Inala product, Noel ‘Chips’ Harrington came off the bench in the second half, that Brothers’ attack began to function, with Harrington drawing in two, three and even four defenders, before getting away late passes.
Easts led 6-0 at halftime thanks to a try to winger, Nick Nicolau; and a penalty goal and field goal by five eighth, Wayne Lindenberg, the Tigers’ smartest back. Easts’ second try came from a Lindenberg bomb, with Brothers’ fullback, Alan ‘Seaweed’ Power fielding the ball, only to have it knocked free, with Greg Holben on the spot to score.
Winger, Noel Russell scored Brothers’ try, after Power had fielded a Chris Ryan bomb. A quick-play-the ball saw replacement halfback, Shane Dyson take advantage of the stretched Easts’ defence by throwing a long, accurate pass to centre, Paul Beauchamp, who put Russell over in the corner. Dyson had replaced John Herlihy, who suffered a shin injury.
The following weekend, Brothers lost the preliminary final 18-10 to Wests, with Wests going on to beat Easts 16-1 in a dour grand final.
Footnote: John Salter made his debut for Queensland in 1977, but was badly injured scoring a try for the Maroons in their 14-13 loss to New South Wales at Lang Park. Salter copped knees in the back, as he grounded the ball, and was replaced by Greg Oliphant. Although Salter played football again, he was never quite the same, and that proved his one and only game for Queensland.