FLASHBACK FRIDAY: SOUTH ISLAND STUNS AUSTRALIA AT THE SHOWGROUNDS
Ahead of South Island Scorpions’ NZRL National 20s Ruben Wiki Cup final appearance, Flashback Friday goes 42 years back in the time tunnel to revisit South Island’s memorable 12-11 upset of all-conquering Australia at the Addington Showgrounds in 1980.
New Zealand’s previous Test win over Australia had been way back in 1971, while the Kiwis were trounced 27-6 in the first Test of the green-and-golds’ 1980 tour. Australia’s 51-7 thrashing of a New Zealand XIII in Christchurch did not bode well for the South Island representative side’s challenge three days later.
But despite falling behind 11-2, South Island clawed back via tries to a pair of Canterbury teammates, second-rower Kevin Franklin and winger Paul McCone, to pull off one of the great international boilovers – although Australian publications pointed to the 10-1 penalty count in the home side’s favour in the second half as a major factor!
Canterbury forwards Mark Broadhurst and Alan Rushton, who ignored a broken nose, head gash and thigh injury, and West Coast stalwart Tony Coll spearheaded the triumph over the star-studded tourists, who fielded the likes of Tom Raudonikis, Chris Close, Greg Brentnall, Les Boyd, Chris Anderson and Graeme Wynn.
The South Island line-up featured 11 Cantabrians, including past and future Kiwi reps, Broadhurst, Rushton, Michael O’Donnell, Bruce Dickison, David Field and Barry Edkins. New Zealand Test great Coll had earlier spent a season at Marist-Western Suburbs in 1970 and was a Canterbury reserve.
Four days later a Kiwis side boasting O’Donnell (who kicked their only points), Broadhurst, Edkins and a recalled Coll went down in the second Test at Carlaw Park as Australia completed a 2-0 cleansweep.
Broadhurst played the last of his 27 matches for Canterbury that year, leaving the region and his club, Marist-Western Suburbs, the following season to join Sydney giants Manly-Warringah. He went on to play for Illawarra and Hull Kingston Rovers in a decorated career that included 17 Test caps for the Kiwis, before finishing back where he started, with Papanui. Broadhurst was inducted as a Legend of League by the NZRL during Canterbury Rugby League’s 100-year celebrations in 2013.
South Island only victory over an international team before or after was a 12-8 result against South Africa in 1963.
Australia would not be defeated again in a non-Test match for another nine years – twice going undefeated through Britain and France in the interim – after their shock defeat to South Island in what ranks as one of the most remarkable afternoons of football ever witnessed at the Showgrounds.
South Island would face Australia just once more, with Canterbury’s Edkins, Truscott, Field and Campbell the 1980 survivors in a 56-0 defeat in Christchurch to the 1985 tourists.
SOUTH ISLAND LINE-UP V AUSTRALIA, 1980
1 M.W. O’Donnell (Canterbury)
2 M.J. Williams (Canterbury)
3 B.I. Dickison (Canterbury)
4 B.J. Green (West Coast)
5 P.M. McCone (Canterbury)
6 D.C. Field (Canterbury)
7 G.J. Smith (West Coast)
13 M.E. Broadhurst (Canterbury)
12 P.W. Truscott (Canterbury)
11 A.P. Rushton (Canterbury)
10 K.R. Franklin (Canterbury)
9 A.P. Coll (West Coast)
8 B.R. Edkins (Canterbury)
14 B.J. Murphy (Canterbury)
15 W.P Dwyer (West Coast)