Paul Vautin’s Queensland, the most maligned team in State of Origin history, clinched the 1995 series with a 20-12 win over New South Wales in the return match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Queensland had won the series opener in Sydney 2-0, and most critics expected the Blues to be a different kettle of fish next time around.
Played in front of a crowd of 52,994, the Melbourne match ebbed and flowed, with the result in doubt until winger, Brett Dallas raced away for a 90 metre try from dummy half 90 seconds from the end.
A wild all-in-brawl erupted in the third minute, and there were a number of similar outbreaks of violence with referee, Eddie Ward battling to keep control.
Whenever the Maroons made their ‘Queenslander’ call, the Blues called them ‘sheilas’, but in the end the New South Welshmen were told to ‘look at the scoreboard’.
Qld lock, Billy Moore had earned national exposure for his rendition of the ‘Queenslander’ call in the players’ race at the Sydney Football Stadium during Origin 1.
Five eighth, Jason Smith won the players’ player award in Melbourne. The Canterbury-Bankstown star had stunned the Bulldogs’ hierarchy by returning to the ARL, after originally signing with Super League. Bulldogs’ teammates, Dean Pay, Jarrod McCracken and Jim Dymock also returned to the establishment.
Canterbury coach, Chris Anderson’s first response was to name Smith as reserve for reserve grade
Qld prop, Gavin Allen from the Broncos, had not signed for SL or the ARL, and indicated that 1995 might be his final season.
Allen’s ‘neutral’ position meant he was eligible for Qld, with Maroons’ selectors ignoring SL aligned stars.
NSW had the same approach, but were still able to field basically an all-international line-up, and were hot favourites to win the 1995 series 3-0.
The ’95 series was labelled ‘Simply the Rest’, and there is little doubt the flair or SL stars, Laurie Daley, Ricky Stuart and Allan Langer was missed in Origin 1, with a penalty goal by Qld hooker, Wayne Bartrim the only score.
But the 2-0 result was one of Qld’s greatest wins, with the Trevor Gillmeister captained side tackling magnificently and showing more skill than the Blues.
“Before the game we talked about having four Maroons jerseys on hand every time someone in a blue jersey ran the ball,” said Qld centre, Mark Coyne. “There were great tackles all over the place, but one on Matt Seers really stood out.”
After the match NSW coach, Phil Gould was forced to defend the performance of his rookie halves, brothers Andrew and Matthew Johns from Newcastle, who were outplayed by the Qld pair, Adrian Lam and Dale Shearer.
“You can’t get experience without matches like this,” Gould said. “The longer the game went the more players from both sides warmed to it.”
Qld team manager, Chris Close paid tribute to novice coach, Vautin.
“He hasn’t left a stone unturned and has the full respect and support of all the players. He is doing a bloody good job,” said Close.
In the under-19 inter-state match in Sydney, the Blues prevailed 34-18 against the Ben Walker skippered Maroons.
Future Origin rep., Stu Kelly scored a 50 metre try for Qld, with Charlie Tonga and Kerry Carmichael the other try scorers for the Maroons. Karmichael replaced Tugun junior, Ben Ikin, who was a shock call-up for the Origin side.