Fifty Years Ago - Round 10, 1971 - plus two rep matches

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Our weekly look back at how footy looked exactly fifty years ago, thanks to George Peterson!

MATCH 1, QLD vs NSW. Lang Park. (Wednesday Night, 26th May)  

Wednesday night' interstate clash saw NSW (12) defeat Queensland (3) in a match that Alan Clarkson described as a ‘win' for 6 tackle rugby league.  The clash with the Maroons was played under international rules meaning teams were forced to relinquish possession after 4 tackles.  Clarkson described the game as a "stop - start affair" dominated by the referee Henry Albert who blew the pea out of the whistle and NSW Centre Bob Fulton who scored two tries.  A local wag suggested a coin toss should decide whether Fulton or the Ref should be man of the match.  

In a match that the 25,000 local fans hoped would finish differently there were 46 scrums, (won 32 -14 by Qld) and 19 penalties, also 13 - 6 to the locals. Most of the Penalties went against NSW hooker Dick Jeffery, who referee Albert threatened with expulsion before the hooker changed positions with prop John Barber.   The 55 stoppages left little room for a free-flowing match.   

Debutant winger Wayne Bennett scored first for QLD sneaking down the blindside from a scrum to crash over in the corner.  NSW had to wait until the 35th minute before Fulton grabbed the first of his three pointers.  With 8 players making the State debut, the locals, lacked the experience of the visitors and it showed as they had numerous chances to score but as Clarkson noted, "Queensland produced the goods for the first 70 yards, but once they got close to the NSW line they seemed to panic".   QLD made one of their numerous line breaks 12 minutes from time only to drop the ball and see Ray Brannigan pick it up and race downfield and set up Fulton his 2nd try beside the posts.  

MATCH 2 QLD vs NSW - Lang Park.  (Saturday 29th May). 

The NSW (30) - QLD (2) score-line suggests that a game of Rugby League did get played but what happened apart from the football, was the real story.  

The Saturday afternoon return match between Australia's two Rugby League states turned into a near riot, with disgruntled Qld fans hurling empty bottles and cans onto the field and invading the pitch.  Page 3 of the Sunday Herald was headlined, "Can attack on Referee" as correspondent Alan Clarkson described the chaos that engulfed players and officials alike, after the sending-off of a fourth player.  Qld finished the match with 10 players, NSW with 12 and referee Keith Holman had to be escorted from the field by a cordon of Premier Joh's, ‘best police that money could buy'.   

NSW player Bob O'Reilly was sent off for a "coat-hanger" tackle that missed, while three QLD players, their fullback and Captain Ray Laird stiff armed Bob Fulton although Fulton didn't have the ball, forward Russell Hughes was marched for "kicking" an opponent - although he was laying on his back when he lashed out and Rod Tolhurst was sent for punching.  To judge for yourself, copy and paste the video URL () from u-tube. 

NSW scored 8 tries with Bob Fulton, Graham Langlands and Mark Harris all bagging a double.  Only three goals were kicked, two by replacement Keith Campbell and one by Langlands.  The score would have 40 or more if ‘Changa Langlands' was on target with his first half a dozen shots.  However no one will remember the footy, only the hundreds of cans and bottles that rained onto the pitch, will be recalled.   

Meanwhile back in Sydney, one club match was played.  

At North Sydney Oval, St George 10 - defeated Norths 6 but the win was greater that the score indicates.   In fact, the visitors won all three grades, despite having 13 first grade players unavailable because of injury or because they were away with the NSW team. Legendary Club Secretary Frank Facer, described the results as "one of the greatest triumphs achieved by the Club."  In a statement that should be remembered by all players of team sport, a Norths player bemoaned" I think we under-estimated our opponents". 

 The next day there were five matches with some surprising results.    

Just over 13,000 fans turned up at the SCG for match of the round between Souths (25) and Newtown (14).  The 9 point margin was remarkable and Coach Clive Churchill was lavish in his praise.  "One of the best performances, ive seen in years".   Newtown led 12 - 0 (after tries to centre Brian Moore and half John Bonham) and were ahead 12 - 3 by half time. Souths with 4 players backing up from the representative match and a couple out injured, ran in four 2nd half tries, in a 40-minute session of complete dominance. 

Western Sydney hosted three matches as Penrith and Wests joined Parramatta in a festival of rugby league for the fasted growing parts of Sydney.  

Over at Cumberland Oval, the home team completely outplayed the more fancied Sharks.  Parramatta 20 defeated Cronulla 11 in a match that saw the Eels forwards dominate their smaller opponents.  Although scores were tied (6 all) at half time,2nd rowers Ron Lynch and Dick Thornett led the Eels pack to control field position and scrums (8-2) against the tiring Sharks forwards.  Tommy Bishop tried hard (as always) but many observers thought that taking on Parramatta through the forwards was a tactical error by the Cronulla Captain/ Coach.  

At Penrith park the home team took on Don Furner' Roosters.  Penrith 17 defeated Easts 8 and with 3 wins from 4 matches, a fortress Penrith is being constructed at the foot of the mountains.  The locals ran against the wind in the first half but still led 12 - 3.  A single converted try to each team were the only highlights in a dour 2nd half.  Penrith officials were disappointed with the crowd of just 4,620.  

Western Suburbs attracted 6,903 to their home match against Manly, but they could not have been happy with the 25point loss.  Manly 34 defeated Wests 9 and the high-flying Sea Eagles dominated every aspect of the Pratten Park match. Five-Eighth Ian Martin starred for Manly, scoring two tries and giving the last pass to two others. Ken Irvine grabbed a try (as usual) but forwards Peter Peters and Terry Randall, who rarely crossed the stripe were also successful in their teams, 6 try romp. Wests remain anchored at the bottom while Manly sit atop the Competition Ladder. 

Finally, at Belmore Oval, the Berries (15) defeated the more highly rated Tigers (3). Canterbury started the season poorly and looked to be fighting with Wests over the wooden spoon, but the win over Balmain gave everyone a boost.  Coach Bob Hagan said his team had not taken their eyes of a finals finish.  "We are still a chance if we defeat Cronulla next week and win 7 of our 2nd round matches", he said when interviewed after todays' match. That will require significant improvement, as they sit in 10th place with just 3 wins so far.   (ED: In another version of describing foul play as something else - Canterbury forwards, including Dennis Manteit who was cautioned three times,  "Meted out plenty of punishment." according to Herald correspondent Phil Wilkins.  50 years would pass before head office became serious about eradicating foul play.)