August 20 1966

1966 Lions tour match v Hawkes Bay

 

Expectations were high among Hawkes Bay fans going into this match, for they had a star studded side, performing well (they won the Ranfurly Shield later in the season), whereas the Lions were coming off a shaky 9-6 win over Poverty Bay-East Coast. The Bay though had to be satisfied with a draw after a very entertaining game.

“Lions 11 points (Bebb, Lamont tries, Wilson conversion and penalty goal). Hawke’s Bay 11 points (Johnson try, Bishop conversion and penalty goal, Loughlin drop-goal). McLean Park, Napier, 20 August. Weather perfect. Ground perfect. Attendance 22,765. Half-time 3-3.

 

 


Kel Tremain - inspiring leader

The art of leadership by personal example, as demonstrated by Tremain, was one of the particular reasons why Hawke’s Bay, after lagging 6-11 with 20 minutes to play, scored an exhilarating try by a massed charge of forwards from the lineout to tie the score and round out very neatly a completely satisfying game. The chance of tieing looked to be as good as gone when with about a quarter of an hour to play Gibson with a dummy and a burst of speed made a run which was stopped 2 yards short of the goal-line with Lamont doing his best to score. At a scrum in front of the posts, Hawke’s Bay put-in, Laidlaw made a great effort and when he won the heel David Watkins was well positioned to drop-kick the winning goal. By a stupendous piece of anticipation and sprinting, Tremain charged the kick down and Hawke’s Bay made a plundering charge far, far down the field. From this moment, Tremain harnessed his men to a series of assaults. Loughlin’s excessive kicking was done with by now. Everything was concentrated upon the winning and handling of the ball. Pressure, severe pressure, was massed upon and applied against the Lions; and the yield, the outstanding try begun by Thimbleby and completed by Johnson, was the finest sort of example of the best New Zealand ability to increase the pressure and tempo of attack all the way to the whistle for no-side.

For a time, it seemed that the try which tied the score was but the prelude to a finish to be dreamed of by schoolboys on the eve of the match of the year. Round about halfway, the Lions defence was in disarray when Davis, bounding forward, collected the ball and with a duck and a dive broke clear. He ran very fast down the field and within reaching distance launched a terrific dive for a try. Pandemonium. The grandstands shuddered with the jumping. As a try that was not a try, it was Category A; for it was not a try from the moment, just as Davis gathered the ball, in which Mr McDavitt decided that a Lion had been obstructed sufficiently to justify a penalty call against the Bay. Thus it was a draw—and the right sort of draw, too, for both teams played the game the right way. If the Bay, through Loughlin, kicked too often in the first half, they made up for. it in the second; and the play in the forwards of Thimbleby, who was remarkable, Crawford, Tremain, and Stone, and in the backs of the young Maori, Paewai, MacRae, Smith, and Bishop, was nobly aggressive, in the best sense, and markedly enterprising. Moreover the defence by the backline, Loughlin, Watts, and MacRae, was so swift as to be almost unbelievable. None of the Lions could afford to take more than a pace before passing onward, so swift were the tacklers to their men. All but McLoughlin, who had his own good reasons, heeded the Lions’ command to pass and pass; and if, for once, Gibson mishandled, both he and Watkins were enterprising, Bebb was the classic threequarter to the T in his try, Young passed sharply, and Wilson played an ideal game of the highest quality. Lamont was almost as prominent in the forwards as Wilson in the backs, and that burly, rotund man of the slipped chest, Norris, gave good value, too.

Norris had been spoken of by Tremain the night before as the “biggest nuisance” in the Lions’ pack. The phrase was not strictly complimentary, for Norris had various ideas about establishing dominance and not all of them were Al by “Twickers” standards. He had played No. 8 for several years before becoming a loose-head prop and when in the open he had a short, savage dash which was painful to the tackler and profitable to the team. But more things were expected of him than short, sharp dashes, and even these were not always delivered. His curious stance at the lineout, with his back to the thrower-in and the opposition, baffled the more scientific Rugby students, and his body-position at the scrummage was more hooped of back than it should have been. But he was a smart, amusing talker, even, perhaps, a good salesman of Norris products, and so he won a preferment which his gifts did not quite entitle him to. He talked blithely about the tricks he knew and practised in the lineout and when these were discussed by Alex Veysey in the Sunday Times, O’Brien was displeased, claiming the information had been obtained by improper means. But Howard was like that; he never tired of talking. He had much to talk of after so splendid a game as today’s and the Welshmen tonight sang at a party of their own to celebrate their performance. They would have had cause for greater cheer if the pass which Watkins could not turn into a goal had instead gone laterally to such as Gibson for a dive at the line. It does not always pay, at Rugby, to advertise.

Wilson placed a 40-yard penalty in the first minute. Bishop replied with a 45-yarder six minutes later and the next score came 41 minutes later when Bebb took McFadyean’s pass after the latter had sliced through the line and, with the loveliest of swerves in and out, baffled Bishop to score. Loughlin levelled the score with a smart drop-kick after a lineout, and Lamont put the Lions ahead when Gibson took the ball after Watts had been caught at a long throw-in and cut back to put Lamont over the line for a try which Wilson goaled. Smith, Paewai, Crawford, Kirkpatrick, and MacRae all handled in one great rush after the Tremain breakaway, but the score was tied in the best manner when Thimbleby broke from the lineout and Johnson, one of several supporting forwards, took the pass to score. Bishop placed the goal—and Davis missed his try. Which was a good thing for all parties.”


From “The Lion Tamers” by Terry McLean. Pub. 1966 by A H & A W Reed. P.242-244.