The Late Mail: Knights v Broncos
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George Peterson's weekly column looking back at the 1971 NSWRFL season - fifty years ago this week - takes a look at Round 14 as well as the Trans-Tasman test.
Australia vs NZ . (June 27th - Carlaw Park)
A little Background.
At the end of Australia's 1970 season, teams travelled to England to compete for the Rugby League World Cup. Four Teams (Great Britain, France, Australia and NZ) played six preliminary matches and the two best teams met in a Final. Each team played three matches. The British Lions won all three of their matches and the other teams won one each. Points for and against decided who would play the Brits in the Final. Australia qualified after defeating NZ 47 - 11.
Travel forward 7 months. Two days after round 13 was completed an Australian 13 ran on to Davies Park, Huntly, NZ to face a NZ 13 in the first match of the short three match tour. Four days later Australia faced off against NZ at Carlaw Park.
Led by Graham Langlands, the team included Bob Fulton, Paul Sait, John Sattler, Bob O'Reilly, Bob McCarthy and Keith Campbell, it was a strong team.
New Zealand (24) defeated Australia (3), in a match that was a complete reversal for the Kangaroos. The Herald report concentrated on an injury (carried into the match) by Langlands, despite which he was heroic (obviously) in stopping at least three try's that the Kiwi's might have scored.
On a muddy and chopped up pitch, the Kiwis were always dominant, scoring 4 tries to 1. Goal kicking forward Henry Tatana potted 6 goals from 7 attempts. More details are available but interested nostalgic readers can go to u-tube and watch the full replay for themselves.
50 Years Ago - 1971 Round 14
On Saturday while the Test team were battling through the mud at Carlaw Park. two matches were played back in Sydney.
Manly (16) defeated Canterbury (6) at the SCG in front of 15,561 patrons. Alan Clarkson from the SMH was scathing in his assessment of the quality of this match following on from last weeks "unflattering contest of errors", between Manly and Easts.
Pundits suggested that this was a match that the Berries had to win to stay in contact with the top four, but they fumbled their way to a 10-point loss. The Berries attack failed to challenge Manly and after 80 frustrating minutes their fans (it was after all their home game) left without seeing a try scored by their team. The Sea Eagles were without Bob Fulton or Mal Reilly but still managed to score three tries. Sadly, for the fans, all three of Manly's tries were scored in the first half, leaving the highlights of the 2nd half being two penalty goals for Canterbury and enough dropped ball to blunt the statisticians' pencil.
North Sydney (11) lost to Parramatta (14) after leading 11 nil at half time. 3,957 dedicated locals turned up to North Sydney Oval to watch their team fall to their 11th loss of the season. It was (if anyone was counting) the sixth time this season they've had a match in their grasp only to let it slip. Norths John Booby was the star of the first half with 4 goals and a guiding hand in the Bears only try. SMH reporter Rod Humphries overheard Parramatta Coach Ian Walsh giving his team a verbal thrashing at half-time and it had the desired effect. After the beak it took just 5 minutes for Parramatta's half Tony Buckpitt to score under the posts. Parramatta had been caned by the referee, in the first stanza, but they were much better after ‘oranges' and with more possession the tries kept coming. Dick Thornett and Ron Graham both crossed but it wasn't until the 77###sup
Sundays four matches included Cronulla vs Souths at Endeavour Field and St George vs Easts at the Sports Ground. With key players away in NZ all clubs were relying on the quality of their reserve graders. At Endeavour Field, Peter Brown, Souths Halfback replacement for Bobby Grant was ‘hero for a day', while Dragons stand-in fullback Dennis Preston, rescued his team with a late penalty to snatch a draw. (Details follow).
South Sydney (22) defeated Cronulla (21) and half-back Peter Brown was the standout for the visitors. Brown dummied his way past hapless defenders for his first try and shot through a hole in the Sharks defence, to cross for his second. Eric Simms converted both tries but Tommy Bishop' tenacious home team still led 11 - 10 (at half-time) after a try to Ray Corcoran and four goals from Barry Andrews. Souths surged early in the 2nd half with Brown grabbing his third try, running on to a ball from hooker Elwyn Walters to score under the posts. Brown's silky passing skills, (no doubt developed playing the amateur game) set up Souths fourth try, scored by Dennis Pittard. With conversions and a penalty goal Souths led 22 - 10 with 20 minutes left. The Sharks crossed twice in the last 5 minutes, but they had left their run too late. Peter Brown knew that his "man of the match" performance would not keep him in first grade, when test half Bobby Grant returned from New Zealand.
St George and Easts drew 16 all and almost everyone at the Sports Ground came away disappointed. The Roosters desperately needed to win to stay in touch with the semi-final contenders and St George did not want to fall too far behind the Manly and Souths in the race for the minor premiership.
The Dragons led 7 - nil after 7 minutes, 10 - 2 after 18 minutes and 14 - 7 at half time. The second half was totally different as the Roosters dominated possession and chased after the lead. With three penalty goals Alan McKean got Easts back to 13 - 14 after 18 minutes and it seemed the "big Red V" were only just holding on. When "Bunny" Reilly crossed for a Roosters try at the 67###sup
Penrith (14) defeated Wests (8) as the Panthers continued to build a "Fortress Penrith" mentality with another home win. With both clubs already preparing for next year, this match was not much to write home about until the referee made a decision that puzzled many and broke the Magpies spirit. Ten minutes from time, Penrith was leading 9 - 8 and their David Applebee broke through only to be felled near the 25-yard line by Wests fullback Tony Ford. To everyone's surprise he regained his feet and raced over near the posts. A try was awarded as Magpies players looked on in disbelief. The converted try put the home team beyond reach.
Balmain (26) defeated Newtown (23) and kept their slim hopes of a semi-final place alive. In front of 5,561 paying customers at Henson Park, the Tigers grabbed the lead 2 minutes from time in what was the fifth change of lead in the match. Phil Wilkins, reporting for the SMH, highlighted the role played by Tigers Winger Stephen Satterly who was playing his first full match. The goal kicking flyer helped his team overcome a deficit in tries by kicking seven goals from nine attempts, including a sideline conversion of Alan Tilbrook's try. When Ron Looms plunged over for a try, he broke the 23 - 23 score line and completed the Tigers comeback. Newtown's chances of breaking into the top four, were gone for good.