September 17 1949

Wallabies beat Southland Hoodoo

Southland went into their match against the 1949 Wallabies with a good team and a proud record of never having lost in their eight matches against Australian state and national sides. But, this was a good Australian side that had lost only one game.

August 29i

The Southland team which met the Wallabies three days later was expected to cause the visitors all sorts of trouble, especially as Allan’s men had been rather unimpressive in their last two outings. History favoured the home team, for in eight matches played by Southland against Australian state and national sides the province had not been beaten.

The Southland pack, one of the strongest in New Zealand, boasted two men who had played for New Zealand, Leo Connelly and Alf Budd, and Eddie Robinson and Bill McCaw were later to wear the All Black jersey. Halfback Jack McKenzie, a well-known amateur boxer, was an All Black reserve who, along with Budd and Jim Stuck, played for the South Island in 1949.

The Australians threw the ball about at every opportunity. Southland also adopted the open game and the result was a fast, entertaining match which could have gone either way. However, it was generally agreed that the visitors deserved their win, which broke the hoodoo suffered by Australian teams against Southland.

There was no wind, the sun was shining and the ground was hard when the game began before 13,000 spectators. As the teams took the field they were flanked by the Civic Band playing the “Invercargill March”.

Five minutes after the start Australia opened the scoring. From a lineout Shehadie broke through and handed on to Windon, who beat two men to score near the posts. Cawsey converted. Millar was wide with a penalty attempt but Southland had points on the board after 10 minutes. Following a break from a lineout by McCaw, the forwards swept towards the visitors’ line in a superb dribbling rush, taking the ball over the line, where Budd fell on it for a try close to the posts. Millar goaled.

Bennett made a long run but tried to beat Cawsey with two men in support and was stopped by the Australian fullback. However, the home team took the lead soon after. Harper tried to burst through but was tackled. McCaw retrieved the ball and sent it to Adam, who, with a jinky run, penetrated the defence to score under the bar. Millar converted.

Two minutes later Burke slipped around a scrum on the Southland 10-yard mark. On being stopped inside the 25, he threw a long pass infield to Windon, who raced on to score. Cawsey goaled from an easy position. The score 10-all at halftime.

Three minutes after the interval the Wallabies heeled from a scrum near the home line. Garner came in from blindside wing outside Emery, took the ball at top speed and outstripped the defence with a brilliant diagonal run to touch down between the posts. Cawsey converted.

In the remainder of the spell Millar missed two penalties for Southland, and near the end of the game Garner was almost over when Harper bowled him into touch with a hard tackle. There was no further scoring and the final whistle blew with Australia holding a five point advantage.

Millar gave a good display at fullback for Southland and Harper made a good fist of marking Allan. Adam scored a clever try and was brilliant at times. Although McKenzie’s passing was not always as good as it should have been, the Southland halfback was resourceful and tricky. McCaw and Robinson hunted the ball tirelessly in the loose, while Buddand Connelly were also at the top of their form. Other home forwards to impress were Stuck and Brooks.

Cawsey played well for the visitors, making very few mistakes and showing improvement on his earlier displays at fullback. Garner again revealed his class, as did Allan, although the Australian captain had limited attacking opportunities. Burke sent out long and accurate passes as well as making some fine runs from the base of the scrum. Windon and Brockhoff were very fast in the loose, and Shehadie was the dominant lineout forward of the game. He was also dangerous when running with the ball.

From “The Visitors” R H Chester & N A C McMillan, Moa Publications, pub. 1990 p.242.