FLASHBACK: July 1961

JULY 1961

Queensland fullback, Frank Drake was in sparkling form as the Maroons defeated New South Wales 20-17 in a thrilling inter-state clash at Lang Park in Brisbane. Drake played a big role in three of Queensland’s four tries, his nimble footwork proving a nightmare for the Blues’ defence.

The win meant Queensland squared the series, with New South Wales having won both matches in Sydney, and Queensland having won the first of the two games in Brisbane.

The Courier-Mail’s Jack Reardon beautifully summed up Drake’s superb play in Game 4.

“With clever anticipation, Drake chimed into the attack after four players had handled; took a high pass and then flicked the ball free in a tackle for winger, Lionel Morgan to catch and dive over for Queensland’s first try,” Reardon wrote. “It was Drake again, who gathered in a well-placed cross kick by Ron Tait, to send Barry Muir over for Queensland’s second try.

“But Drake really brought the crowd of 22,000 to its feet when he made a magnificent swerving burst over 75 yards, to leave a trail of tacklers sprawling, and score between the posts. Under pressure in the last minute, when NSW had an up-and-under penalty, Drake coolly caught the ball in the face of the charging Blue pack; stepped away neatly and ran 40 yards to relieve the pressure to his goal line.”

Rival props, Dud Beattie (Qld) and Nev Charlton (NSW) were sent off by Sydney referee, Laurie Bruyeres, 13 minutes into the second half for barging in the scrums.  Before his dismissal, Charlton had set up tries for hooker, Fred Anderson and winger, Eddie Lumsden, with clever dummying and switches of play.

Queensland had won Game 3 of the series 15-2, mid-week at the Exhibition Grounds, with the Maroons’ pack dominating their rivals,  allowing Test halfback, Barry Muir to weave his magic. Big forwards, Elton Rasmussen, Jim Paterson, Mick Veivers and Ken Day slashed holes through the Blues’ defence, opening the way for the Queensland backs to do their stuff, with indigenous winger, Lionel Morgan scoring two tries. Queensland coach, Ted Verrenkamp instructed Rasmussen to stand wide in attack, and he created havoc.

In a Primary Schools curtain raiser, NSW defeated Qld 3-0. NSW also won the return match 11-3. Valleys’ half, Kevin Brasch, a school teacher, was coach of the Queensland side, which included future Test backs, Warren Orr and Johnny Rhodes. The NSW skipper was future Wallaby rugby union halfback, John Hipwell from Newcastle.

In England, the Salford club signed Welsh rugby union international five eighth, Ken Richards, 26, from Bridgend. Richards, a drop goal specialist, had made his Test debut against the Springboks in 1960, and in the months to follow, played against England, Scotland, Ireland and France.

Frank Drake attacks for Queensland against New South Wales

Barry Muir (right) and Greg Veivers at a State of Origin function in 2015. Muir coached Queensland teams in the 1970s, with Veivers the skipper.

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