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Even though Brian McKechnie kicked three drop goals when they beat Marist in 1980 it was the forward pack that played like men possessed and prop for Star, Barry Leonard was relentless and dominant in the lineouts and cleaned out rucks and mauls to feed his forwards while they were going forward. Phillip Butt was inspired by Leonard and gave one of his best displays and this was cemented when he tackled No. 8 Murray Ukich and sat him back on his behind. Roger McRae led by example was superb in the loose and sent good ball back to halfback Wayne Tinker who was able to distribute it quickly and accurately.
Neville Willis started on the side of the scrum but had to switch when Andy Larsen was ordered off after the 23rd minute. This did not upset his rythmn and he stepped up a gear to cover for the lose. Craig Hannon and Malcolm Quinn were equally good at locks and did not let Marist away with anything in the lineouts. They were assisted with Roger Hancox that had a instrumental game in the loose and upset the Marist backline all day. Brian McKechnie did kick a lot during the game but that was probably more to give his team a bit of a breather and time to get into position.
Richard Wheeler was sound at full back and Brian Broad was consistently good at second five eight.
Marist would have been disappointed that they could not take advantage of their opposite having a man down and with them running strong scored a great try when Chris McDonald found a gap by confusing the opposition and passed to Gary Bennetts who fumbled the ball and Star thought was a knock on but the ref ruled it had come of his leg and Pat O'Brien chased the ball ahead and twisted in the tackle to score the try.
Just before half time Marist won the ball in the lineout and although the Star forwards were up quickly it was the pace of the ball through the Marist backline that beat them, and missing out players to speed things up and it was John McGrath at fullback that saw the opportunity to feed Paul Burrows. Burrows raced down the sideline and with McGrath still in support gave the ball back to him and waited patiently for the tackle to happen to draw the men in and then passed to Uklich who went over for a well earned team try.
McGrath was outstanding for Marist and because of McKechnie kicking all day was under a fair bit of pressure which he absorbed beautifully. McGrath seemed to relish in the situation and effectively turned it into an attacking opportunity for his team. Steve O'Neill worked tirelessly in the forwards and gave nothing away to Butt while lock Peter Hughes supported him and worked extremely hard.
Like the previous week in the Marist v Bluff game another forward brawl erupted which in a way shows that no-one will be bullied on the field
STAR: 15 Malcolm Quinn (1) Brian McKechnie (3DG)(1PG)
MARIST: 10 Pat O'Brien (1) Murray Ukich (1) John McGrath (1Con)
REFEREE: Mr Arthur Gormack.
Reference The Southland Times July 1980
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