FLASHBACK MARCH 1989
THE Brisbane Broncos recorded one of their finest victories when they showed amazing grit and stamina to beat Manly-Warringah 22-18 in the mud of Brookvale Oval, despite the dismissal of skipper, Wally Lewis in the 25th minute.
Lewis was sent off by referee, Greg McCallum for an alleged forearm to the head of Manly forward, Glenn Ryan. Brisbane also lost prop, Greg Dowling for five minutes in the sin bin for a professional foul.
Manly led 12-6 at the time of Lewis’s dismissal, but Brisbane went to the halftime break leading 16-12.
The experience of Dowling and second rower, Gene Miles was the inspiration for younger team members, while out wide, centres, Chris Johns and Tony Currie stood out against Manly’s former rugby union internationals, Michael O’Connor and Matthew Burke. Chris Johns went on to play for New South Wales that year, becoming the first Bronco to represent the Blues.
Manly five eighth, Cliff Lyons scored all three of his side’s tries. The crowd was 17,736.
Lewis was later exonerated. Wally had a love/hate relationship with McCallum over the years.
After a match against Newcastle in 1988, a newspaper published a photo of Wally apparently with his hand on McCallum’s shoulder, as he argued with him, following a Knights’ try.
Certain sections of the media demanded that league boss, John Quayle investigate the incident, because it looked as if Lewis was man handling the referee.
It was a case of the camera not painting a true picture, with McCallum confirming that Lewis did not get near him. And rather than arguing the point with McCallum, Lewis was merely pointing out that Broncos’ winger, Joe Kilroy had been injured, and it looked serious.
Foonote: Chris Johns said playing Origin for NSW woke him up to how big Wally Lewis was in that arena.
“Playing alongside Wally, week-in, week-out, I felt no intimidation,”Johns told me. “In Origin, I wanted to get out there and kick him in the head. But I could see that (NSW five eighth) Terry Lamb was intimated by him. I don’t think Terry had a good game in Origin.”
Photo: Wally Lewis leads out Queensland at Lang Park.