Australian team manager, Duncan Hall was left fuming after local referee, Jack Percival penalised the Kangaroos 15-6 in a match against the Auckland representative side at Carlaw Park, with the tourists beaten 19-15, goal kicking proving the difference.
The Kangaroos had beaten New Zealand 27-12 just 48 hours earlier, in the opening match of the 1977 World Series tournament at the same ground, and it is amazing the ARL Board agreed to play the strongest provincial side in the Shaky Isles, so soon after a Test.
“Tonight’s game probably should never have been played,” said Australian coach, Terry Fearnley, in something of understatement.
Hall, one of the greatest forwards in the game’s history, said Percival used different rules to what were used in Australia, and to those employed by English whistle blower, Billy Thompson in the Test.
“The spectators pay for admission, so I suppose they were satisfied,” said Hall. “But a lot of the rulings confused me.”
One ruling in particular, left the Australians scratching their heads. As Australia made a break in the final minute, the move was stopped by Percival, who ruled an obstruction by forward, Rod Reddy.
“Johnny Peard was going one way, and I was going the other,” Reddy said. “I was nowhere near play, but the referee said I had taken a man out of the game.”
Percival awarded a try to outstanding young Auckland centre, Olsen Filipaina, even though the Australians were adamant Filipaina had bounced the ball.
“I would kike to see a replay of that on TV,” said Hall’s co-manager, Cliff Brown, who was also director of referees in New South Wales.
But credit must be given to Auckland’s attacking brand of football, which was superior to that shown by the Kiwi Test side. Man of the Match was young Auckland lock, Mark Graham.
Filipaina, Denis Williams and Glen Taylor scored tries for the home side, with Chris Jordan kicking five goals. Rod Reddy, Mark Thomas and Greg Pierce scored tries for Australia, with Graham Eadie kicking three goals. Thomas, from the Brothers’ club in Brisbane, had also scored a try in his Test debut against the Kiwis. Australia suffered a major blow before kick-off, with the withdrawal of second rower, Ray Higgs with a back injury.
Playing without Thomas, injury hit Brothers put up a brave show, before losing 13-9 to Valleys in a mid-week, Amco Cup knock-out match at Lang Park. Brothers led 9-5 going into the fourth quarter, with Rod Cogill having scored a try, while Ian Dauth potted three goals. Centre, Ron Milne had scored a try for Valleys.
Second rower, Tom Duggan sparked Valleys’ last quarter surge, setting up a try for centre, Alan Beauchamp. Duggan scored himself soon after, finishing off a fine team movement. He and halfback, Ross Strudwick tied for the player of the match award, but Strudwick took the colour tv, on the toss of a coin. Brothers’ best was hooker, Barry Jensen.
I came off the bench for Brothers in this match (I told you they had injury concerns). My most vivid memory is that of Valleys’ State prop, John Crilly running over the top of me, from a tap kick.
That same night, St George beat Cronulla 18-17 in an Amco Cup match played at Sydney’s Leichhardt Oval, with forward, Robert Stone scoring a last minute try to give the Dragons victory.
Brisbane Norths were rocked by the news that first grade backs, Peter Dutton and Wayne Hale were injured in a car accident on Mt Cootha. ‘The Courier-Mail’ report said their car ran off the road, as they were travelling to the Channel 7 studios to see a replay of a match. They were treated at Royal Brisbane Hospital, Dutton for a leg injury and Hale for elbow and neck problems. Dutton also was a prominent baseball player.