September 27 1982

West Coast’s perfect record

West Coast has long been one of New Zealand’s smaller unions, with successes hard to pick up against the bigger provinces. But they do have perfect record (played one, won one) against Counties Manukau, and they achieved it in 1982, a season when Counties (they changed to Counties Manukau in 1996) were strong enough to beat Australia and Auckland, drew 15 all with Canterbury in a Ranfurly Shield challenge and had they won that Shield match would have taken out the National Championship.

Counties could perhaps be excused for being below par against West Coast. They had experienced on Saturday the double disappointment of, again, going desperately close to winning the Ranfurly Shield and also losing their chance of winning the Championship. Their match against West Coast in Greymouth was just two days later, not a lot of time to drown their sorrows, recover, regroup and travel to play their final domestic match, one in which there was absolutely nothing at stake.

To their credit Counties kept faith with their hosts by putting out more or less their star team, including All Blacks Bruce Robertson and Rod Ketels, plus leading players Lindsay Raki, Warren McLean, Graeme Taylor, Allan Dawson, Paul Tuoro and Henry Maxwell. All Black hooker Andy Dalton did not play against West Coast but his replacement, Brett Wilson, was good enough to become an All Black a year later.

The 10 – 6 (two tries to nil) win over Counties meant West Coast finished the season on a relative high. It was their third win in a ten match programme, in which they had got very close to lifting the Seddon Shield off Marlborough and had near misses against Nelson Bays and South Canterbury, a reasonable result.

No West Coast players were called on for higher honours 1982. Those who appeared in all ten fixtures were fullback Wayne Gugich (who contributed 61 of the Coast’s 93 points), first five eight Stu Wyness, captain and flanker Blair Hopkins and prop John Walton.