The official attendance is displayed during the 2020 State of Origin for Bushfire Relief match.
The official attendance is displayed during the 2020 State of Origin for Bushfire Relief match.

Malthouse's fury over Origin 'highlight'

IT had been lying dormant for 12 years but the AFL State of Origin returned for an incredible night of AFL action to raise money for bushfire relief efforts.

It was the second time Victoria and the All Stars have played as the old State of Origin format featuring Victoria and South Australia, as well as occasional additions of Western Australia, Tasmania and the other other states, which lasted between 1977 and 1999. 

And Victoria were once again the winners, romping home for a thrashing win.

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The side claimed the victory 24.10 (154) to 15.18 (108) after coming home late with a nine-goal final quarter to snatch the result, despite having trailed for all but two minutes of the game until they blew the All Stars off the park.

But while the match was an important, the result wasn't really as the AFL community came together to raise money for the bushfire relief efforts.

Before the match, firefighters, emergency services and volunteers were honoured as a massive crowd of 51,052 fans crowded into Marvel Stadium.

The crowd was constantly involved with a cracking atmosphere and brilliant football.

While the best of the best the AFL has to offer were on the field, it wasn't always the best football with little defence as the 39 goals were kicked between the teams, the crowd was never silent.

They even delivered a Mexican wave in the third quarter.

AFL legend Jonathan Brown called it the "highlight of night" but legendary coach Mick Malthouse has slammed the State of Origin over the Mexican wave.

The 51,052-strong crowd started going around the ground midway through the third quarter, but Malthouse was unhappy as he believes it's usually reserved for when crowds are bored.

When it was brought up that it was "purely an exhibition game" for a cause, Malthouse slammed the crowd activity.

"Why has half the crowd or about say a fifth of the crowd have gone and the others are in a merry mood," Malthouse said on ABC Grandstand.

"This is the sort of stuff you see at a game of soccer when it's nil-all and really no one goes, they don't have shots on goal or someone's 1/150, you know. This is a game of football. Rarely do you get this.

"These people are entertained by our game, they're entertaining themselves in the stand."

Malthouse doesn't particularly love the State of Origin format with an admission before play that he would sweat on injuries throughout the game, as would all other coaches.

While some noted the crowd involvement, in a negative light, it wasn't all bad.

Victoria scored nine goals in the final quarter to just two behinds for the All Stars as they ran away with the 46-point win.

Collingwood star Scott Pendlebury said he was surprised Victoria could come back to claim the win.

"We seemed to start every quarter slowly and probably in fairness, if they kicked straighter it would have been over early but we managed to kick straight when we had our chances," he said. "It was probably a defender's nightmare but it's on instinct. Everyone's playing offensive footy, flow, make a mistake, the balls gone, it's a goal the other way or a shot on goal. It's good, it's just free-flowing footy, it takes you back to under-16s or under-18s when you're just going out there and playing."

Richmond gun Dustin Martin was named the best on ground for his performance.

It was all about emergency services tonight.
It was all about emergency services tonight.

As for whether it will be back, the players are positive about it continuing on in the future.

Reigning Brownlow winner Nat Fyfe said he believed the concept would be a good way to kick off the season.

"We'll let the waters settle after this and see how everyone pulls up and see how they pulls up," he said. "But at this stage, you saw everyone put the hands up, the best in the country wanted to play, it probably has a future."

Geelong star Mark Blicavs agreed: "I want it to, I think there's got to be buy in from players and coaches but I think we did a really good job tonight."

Tigers star Tom Lynch also wanted the game to continue and said "hopefully we raised a lot of money and it really benefits a charity".

Jack Riewoldt also said it could definitely work in the future, "pick a charity every year and do it for that reason".

"I'd love to play for Tasmania at some stage but the All Stars is fantastic," he admitted. "Just the relationships we made. Look around the room here and you see people chatting from all different clubs and they put their colours down for the weekend to come out and play for a great cause."

SCORE

Full-time: Victoria 24.10 (154) - All Stars 15.18 (108)

SQUADS

VICTORIA: 1. Jade Gresham, 2. Shaun Higgins, 3. Andrew Gaff, 4. Dustin Martin, 5. Toby Greene, 6. Lachie Whitfield, 7. Marcus Bontempelli, 8. Travis Boak, 9. Trent Cotchin (captain), 10. Scott Pendlebury, 11. Jack Macrae, 12. Tom Papley, 13. Stefan Martin, 14. Bachar Houli, 18. Jeremy Cameron, 19. Tom Lynch, 20. Nick Haynes, 21. James Sicily, 22. Todd Goldstein, 23. Josh Kelly, 24. Steele Sidebottom, 30. Darcy Moore, 31. Rory Sloane, 35. Patrick Dangerfield, 42. Adam Saad, 44. Jake Lloyd, 46. Mark Blicavs.

ALL-STARS: 1. Michael Walters, 2. Zach Tuohy, 3. Stephen Coniglio, 4. Brodie Grundy, 5. Brad Sheppard, 6. Elliot Yeo, 7. Nat Fyfe (captain)8. Jack Riewoldt, 9. Patrick Cripps, 10. Shane Edwards, 12. Callum Mills, 13. Taylor Walker, 14. Lachie Weller, 15. Eddie Betts, 16. Isaac Smith, 17. Lachie Neale, 18. Scott Lycett, 22. Luke Breust, 23. Charlie Cameron, 26. Tom Hawkins, 29. Rory Laird, 31. Harris Andrews, 32. Bradley Hill, 33. Brodie Smith, 38. Jeremy Howe, 39. Neville Jetta, 40. Jason Johannisen.

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