AUSTRALIAN Regional Media’s Wayne Heming takes us through some of the most magical moments in State of Origin Game II clashes between Queensland and NSW.
June 14, 1989, Sydney Football Stadium
THIS game will live in my memory forever among the greatest performances in Origin history and, of course, for THAT try by Wally Lewis that only the King could have scored. Queensland had been dominant in the opening game at Lang Park, smashing NSW 36-6. But in the return game they suffered the worst run of injuries ever, players in maroon jumpers being constantly carried or stretchered from the field. Halfback Allan Langer went down with a fractured ankle, then big Mal Meninga a fractured eye socket, while Paul Vautin (elbow) and winger Michael Hancock (shoulder) soon followed. It wasn’t revealed until after the game that lock Bob Lindner had played on in the second half with a broken leg because Queensland was down to just 12 men. The game, though, will always be remembered for Lewis’s memorable try. With the game in the balance and Queensland players out on their feet with just over 20 minutes remaining, Lewis (right) called on all his reserves and took off about 30 metres out from the Blues’ try line, beating NSW defender after NSW defender before diving over in the desperate tackle of fullback Garry Jack. His amazing solo effort provided his beloved Maroons with the inspiration to cling on for an unforgettable victory built on pure heart and guts and pride in the jumper.
May 29, 1991, Sydney Football Stadium
THIS was the game that featured the famous half-time in-your-face blow-up between Wally Lewis and Mark Geyer, later suspended for five games for his one-man-band assault on Queensland players. Lewis took it upon himself to confront Geyer with referee David Manson standing between them as they yelled abuse at each other. The magical moment though came just before full-time when Michael O’Connor stepped up to take a sideline conversion of Mark McGaw’s try, which tied the scores at 12-12. On a good night it was a high-pressure kick but this game was played in driving rain – the leather ball was as a heavy as a rock. But, it didn’t worry O’Connor, a magnificent kicker on his day, and he landed arguably the toughest goal in Origin history.
May 31, 1988, Lang Park
REFEREE Mick Stone almost incited a riot when he dared send Wally Lewis to the sin bin in front of the Queensland faithful for dissent. Queenslanders love their amber XXXX, so for them to throw full beer cans in Stone’s direction in protest showed just how much they worshipped the Emperor of Lang Park. The ugly scenes forced Stone to stop the game as cans rained into the ground forcing players to scurry to the middle of the field. The incident only served to spur Lewis and his Queenslanders on to a 16-6 win on their way to a 3-0 series whitewash.
June 11, 1985, Sydney Cricket Ground
NSW came under heavy fire for lacking the pride and passion required to win Origin which Queensland constantly reminded them was part of their maroon DNA. But along came a little halfback named Steve Mortimer who instilled those very qualities and more in the Blues jumper, leading them to their first series victory. After taking the first game 18-2 in front of a parochial 33,000 Lang Park crowd, “Turvey” was inspirational as he led his men to 21-14 game two win. Images of a tearful Mortimer kissing the SCG turf before being chaired off the field on the shoulders of teammates Wayne Pearce and Noel Cleal are a constant reminder of the magic moment.
May 31, 1995, MCG
THIS turned out to be a fight night for Melburnians with a little bit of rugby league played. The opening scrum of the game erupted into a wild brawl involving all 26 players. Strangely enough, two of the chief antagonists, Queensland’s Billy Moore and NSW rival David Barnhill, who went hammer and tong throwing wild haymakers, became lifelong friends afterwards. As Moore told Australian Regional Media in a recent interview, Queensland knew the Blues would be looking for a stink after being embarrassed 2-0 in the first game. “We knew if anyone of us uttered the world ‘Queenslander’ they’d get belted,” he said. “We packed down in the first scrum and our front row called out ‘Queenslander’ and the stink was on for young and old. I reckon I threw 100 punches and they all missed.” Barnhill said NSW had talked about it all week and what they would do if the Queensland call broke out. “It just erupted,” he said.
June 19, 2004, Suncorp Stadium
MARK Coyne’s “miracle try” in game one of 1994 may never be topped but the effort a decade later by Billy Slater at Suncorp Stadium in 2004 was mesmerising for its sheer brilliance and amazing skill level at high speed from the Queensland fullback. Slater sped through after a Darren Lockyer grubber kicked in behind the line and Slater gobbled up the ball with only NSW fullback Anthony Minichiello to beat, swerved to his right with the ball in his right hand. Slater then produced a piece of sheer brilliance, kicking the ball across his body to the left before winning the race to the ball to score what has become his Origin signature try.
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.