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The second ever Australian rugby league State of Origin fixture of 1981 (again played as the 3rd game of a series but the only game using the Origin selection criteria) featured a stunning comeback by the Maroons, an all-in-brawl, a 90-metre try by Eric Grothe, Sr. and the second consecutive man-of-the-match performance from Chris Close. Contents 1 Match report 2 Teams 2.1 New South Wales Team 2.2 Queensland Team 3 References 4 External links // Match report With rugby league officials still not convinced of the State of Origin format, the 1980 model was repeated in 1981 when the first two matches were played under the old residential selection criteria. Queensland were competitive, losing 10-2 at Lang Park and 22-9 at Leichhardt Oval for New South Wales to take the series before the third match reverted to the new Origin selection criteria and the intensity again picked up. Queensland needed to call on only four Sydney-based players - winger Mitch Brennan from Souths, second-rower Paul McCabe from Easts and front-rowers Rod Morris (Balmain Tigers) and Paul Khan (Cronulla Sharks). Arthur Beetson, who was seeing out his playing days at age 36 with Redcliffe, had been in fine form for the two residential clashes but pulled out with an eye injury on the day of the match giving the Queensland captaincy to 21 year old five-eighth Wally Lewis. 28 July 1981 Queensland 22–15 New South Wales Lang Park, Brisbane Attendance: 25,613 Referee/s: Kevin Steel Man of the Match: Chris Close Mal Meninga (13) Brad Backer (3) Chris Close (3) Wally Lewis (3) (Report) (9) Mick Cronin (6) Eric Grothe, Sr. Opposing props Morris and Steve Bowden clashed in an early tackle. Minutes later Lewis sought out rookie NSW five-eighth Terry Lamb and gave him a rugged welcome. The next scrum erupted into a brawl with Bowden and Morris singled out by referee Steel as the chief instigators, with both then sent to the sin-bin for 10 minutes. In that period the Blues raced to a 15-0 lead with tries to their Parramatta stars in Eric Grothe, Sr. and Mick Cronin who would later that year feature in the Eels' inaugural premiership victory. The first of Grothe's two tries was after he swooped upon a wayward pass by Maroons' hooker Greg Conescu and raced 90-metres down the touchline to score. Queensland took back some momentum just before half-time when winger Brad Backer grabbed a try off a long pass from McCabe to make it 15-5. Following the break Lewis sparked a second-half Maroons revival when he burst through a narrow gap on a long, diagonal run to score a dazzling (and much-replayed) individual try. Minutes after the re-start came an enduring moment that has become part of Origin folklore. Queenslander Colin Scott fielded a kick near halfway and split the defence in a 45 metre charge that ended just short of the line thanks to a despairing tackle by Grothe. Grothe clung to Scott's ankles as he waited for his team mates to get back, but in a now-famous image, Chris Close backhanded Grothe out of the way, picked up the ball from dummy-half and placed it over the line for a try[1]. Mal Meninga converted to take the score to 15-all. The momentum was now fully with Queensland and frustrated Blues lock Ray Price appeared to head-butt Queensland forward Chris Phelan in the play the ball. He was penalised and Meninga's kick put the Maroons in front for the first time in the game. In the final moments referee Steel awarded Meninga a penalty try after he ruled an illegal tackle by Blues centre Steve Rogers. Meninga converted to complete Queensland's victory, setting a standard of expectation for miraculous Queensland comebacks that has been met time and time again in subsequent contests. Teams New South Wales Team Position 1981 Fullback Phil Sigsworth Wing Terry Fahey Centre Mick Cronin Centre Steve Rogers (c) Wing Eric Grothe, Sr. Five-Eighth Terry Lamb Halfback Peter Sterling Prop Steve Bowden Hooker Barry Jensen Prop Ron Hilditch Second Row Peter Tunks Second Row Les Boyd Lock Ray Price Replacement Garry Dowling Replacement Graeme O'Grady Coach Ted Glossop Queensland Team Position 1981 Fullback Colin Scott Wing Brad Backer Centre Mal Meninga Centre Chris Close Wing Mitch Brennan Five-Eighth Wally Lewis (c) Halfback Ross Henrick Prop Paul Khan Hooker Greg Conescu Prop Rod Morris Second Row Rohan Hancock Second Row Paul McCabe Lock Chris Phelan Replacement Norm Carr Replacement Mark Murray Coach Arthur Beetson References ^ Gallaway, Jack (2003). Origin: Rugby League's greatest contest 1980-2002. Australia: University of Queensland Press. pp. 20. ISBN 0702233838, 9780702233838.  External links State of Origin 1981 at v • d • e State of Origin New South Wales Queensland Players · Squads · Records Stadium Australia · NSWRL Players · Squads · Records Lang Park · QRL Series 1980 • 1981 • 1982 • 1983 • 1984 • 1985 • 1986 • 1987 • 1988 • 1989 1990 • 1991 • 1992 • 1993 • 1994 • 1995 • 1996 • 1997 • 1998 • 1999 2000 • 2001 • 2002 • 2003 • 2004 • 2005 • 2006 • 2007 • 2008 • 2009 2010 • 2011 • 2012 • 2013 • 2014 • 2015 • 2016 • 2017 • 2018 • 2019 Results & Statistics • Roy and HG's commentary • Super League Tri-Series • Australian Rugby League