4 August 1937
South Africa too strong for Manawatu.
This was the Springboks 4th match in New Zealand and followed good wins over Auckland and Taranaki. But, the South Africans had struggled (6 – 3) on a muddy Rugby Park in Hamilton against Waikato-King Country-Thames Valley and earlier had been well beaten by New South Wales in the rain and slush of the Sydney Cricket Ground. How would they fare against Manawatu on a soft and windy Palmerston North Showgrounds?
“SPRINGBOKS, 39; MANAWATU, 3.
TOURISTS BACK AMONG CRICKET SCORES.
MANAWATU DEFENCE CUT TO RIBBONS IN SECOND HALF.
At every one of the games in New Zealand the Springboks and their opponents were played on to the field by bands. At Palmerston North, where they met Manawatu, an additional preliminary was provided when an American professional wrestler, “Rusty” Westcoatt, walked on to the field and proceeded to demonstrate how the ball was passed in American football.
Although no rain fell during the match, the ground was heavy and at the last moment Craven was played in the centre in place of Hofmeyr, while Strachan displaced van Reenen in the pack. In the first half the Springboks played into a strong wind and they endeavoured to keep the game close, as Harris repeatedly sent the ball over the touch-line, preferring to gain ground by kicking than by opening up attacking three-quarter movements.
The Manawatu pack were most ably led by McKenzie, and in the first half they gave the South Africans a great deal of trouble. They held their own in the line-out and did very well in the tight scrummages, and they repeatedly tried to get their backs going. However, the South Africans held them up with a grand display of tackling; and back of them was “Gerry” Brand at the very top of his form. This was to prove a great day for Brand as he kicked one drop-goal, three penalty goals and converted four tries. Indeed, it was he who opened the scoring with a penalty kick. It was near the touch-line and thirty yards out, right in the teeth of the wind. But Brand judged his kick brilliantly, the ball appearing to hesitate in the air before dropping over the crossbar (3—0).
Lochner was not too happy at scrum half-back, owing to the attention he was getting from the Manawatu forwards. His service was a bit hesitant. It was not surprising therefore, that Craven and he exchanged places, and an immediate improvement was apparent in the play of “Tony” Harris.
The Manawatu forwards got the ball more often from the line-out than the tourists, but since the repeated breaking through the line at New Plymouth the South Africans had devised a move to keep the opposition forwards fenced in after the ball was thrown in from touch. Instead of lining up with the rest of the forwards, “Fanie” Louw stood next to the line and he quickly moved to where the ball was thrown, thus acting as a cork to bottle up any attempts to break through.
The home side had had so much more of the play in the first half that they were most unlucky to be eight points down when the interval arrived. The Springboks second score was the result of Pat Lyster’s moving in from the right wing as the ball was heeled out of the scrum. This was such a surprise to the opposition that he was practically unmarked as he received the ball from Craven. His speed carried him across the line for a try, which Brand converted with a fine kick (8—0).
It was a different story in the second half. With the wind behind them, the South Africans opened up the game, Harris abandoning his line-kicking and bringing the three- quarters into action. Craven had little time to lose in firing his bullet passes, as the Manawatu breakaways gave him their full attention and the ball consequently was not always perfectly aimed. But Harris gathered his passes like a slip fielder taking catches.
Bergh and Bastard led a forward rush towards the Manawatu line and the ball was then sent out to the three quarters, moving along the line until it reached Lochner. He punted it over the full-back’s head, and Lyster raced tip to touch it down for a try (11—0).
Harris put Manawatu in danger a little later, when he skilfully eluded three opposition backs and passed to Bester, who was playing on the left wing in this match. Bester punted the ball so that it dropped behind the goal-line and he raced after it, but long-limbed Lochner beat him to it, scoring a try which Brand converted (16—0).
Manawatu’s lone score followed. Edlin, the home halfback, broke round the serum and he passed the ball back to his forwards, Newman securing a try (16—3).
After that the play became very one-sided; the Springboks held the whip hand forward, and as they did not hesitate to keep up the attack they cut the Manawatu defence to ribbons, adding twenty-three points.
First, Brand scored a penalty goal (19—3). Craven then began a thrust, which was rammed right home. Instead of passing the ball he “dummied” and broke through a ruck of forwards. Harris ranged up alongside, took his pass and in turn threw the ball out to Watt, who scored. Brand converted (24-3). Both Brand and White tried long range drop goals, and at his third attempt the full-back’s kick from half-way sent the ball soaring between the uprights (28—3). Strachan came to Bester’s assistance a little later, threw a long range pass to Watt and he in turn passed it to Bastard, who scored a try, Brand failing with the kick (31—–3). After that came another penalty goal by “Gerry” Brand (34—3) and finally “Fanie” I.ouw ended a combined forward and three-quarter rush by catapulting his way over the Manawatu line. This try Brand converted (39—3).
M. Waldin, B, Buick G Wasley, H. Waugh J. Nicol, J. Fiinlay, C Edlin, O. Newman, G H Terry, A G Williams, W G Powell R M McKenzie (C.), E Fell, R Ewart, W Sullivan.
G H Brand, P J Lyster, D H Craven, J White, J L A Bester, T A Harris, G P Lochner, H H Watt, L C Strachan P J Nel (C), W F Bergh, W E Bastard, S C Louw, J W Lotz, C B Jennings.
Referee: Dr. D. McK. Dickson (Canterbury).
“Manawatu Evening Standard,” Palmerston North: “For the first twenty minutes the Manawatu forwards, rucking fiercely, more than held their own, and the spectacular manner in which they swept down the Springbok’s line brought roars of excitement from the crowd. They came to their feet with a succession of thrills, when Manawatu three times nearly crossed the visitors’ line in this period. and lost two good chances of kicking penalty goals. Excitement died down after this early burst of enthusiasm when Manawatu’s forwards appeared to ‘crack’ under this torrid pace, and eased up, with the result that in the last ten minutes before the interval the Springboks were hurling themselves at the line. Though they commanded but an eight-point lead at the interval, the Springboks, on resuming. started to cut the defence to ribbons with swift and clever short passing which, for the most part, had their opponents completely baffled. Rallying, the Manawatu forwards played with spirit, and several times stormed the Springbok line, but had not the necessary finish. Sheer speed by the South Africans, with their brilliant short passing, had the Manawatu backs beaten,’’
“Evening Post,” Wellington: “The striving for mastery was keen in the early stages, as it had been in other engagements, and for a time it seemed that those who entertained hopes of Manawatu’s representatives extending the visitors were on sound ground. There were occasions when the loose rushes by the local side looked like being devastating, but the intensive backing-up and quick-recovery efforts by the Springboks caused Manawatu hopes to be dashed time and again. Retaliation by the Springboks was based upon sound lines. Good use was made of the touch line, and there was a sample in this policy of the strength that can be shown by the tourists in beating back opposing forces to the point at which the ball is let out for the final drive. However, it was only an indication; the Springboks are not overkeen about that policy on this tour. There was another thing, too, which served to curb the Manawatu activities. This was the exchange of positions made by Craven and Lochner early in the game, Craven going into his proper place at the base of the scrum.’’
Arthur C. Swan, “Sporting Publications,’’ Wellington: ‘‘What a different South African team we saw today. With six changes from the side which played last Saturday—two back and four forward— the fifteen turned on a display full of abandon. Whereas against the ‘Men of Egmont’ they appeared to play with a very great respect for their opponents and a still greater respect for the Taranaki record against overseas teams, Nel and Company showed that they did not give ‘twa hoots’ for All Black McKenzie and his fellows, with the result that Rugby as promised us was certainly served up. And it was not always the back division that was in the limelight; the vanguard, too, took part in many of the hand to-hand rushes, but still the Springboks never really mastered the Manawatu pack. Brand was in wonderful form; his all round work could only be classed as superb. I doubt if this Manawatu exhibition of Brand’s has ever been excelled—faultless in handling, fielding and kicking. Harris can be described as a ‘bundle of energy.’ He was everywhere the play was and never missed his pass. Lyster’s speed was most noticeable, especially when he ran round to make that extra man. Craven was more solid than brilliant. I was sorry for Lochner. Looking every inch a footballer. he was not happy behind the pack in the early stages, but I thought Nel should have given him a little more time to settle down to the job. The moving of him out to centre may have been the reason for the later mishandling —he was bound to feel that he had been an early failure. A great player is Bastard —easily the most outstanding of the visitors in this match. Watt looks a speedster and will need watching all the time: Strachan again played well. Bergh took the eye for his solidity; he’s one certainty for South Africa’s Test side. The home pack surprised by their good showing. Never letting up they certainly gave the ‘Bok’ insides some work to do. It was in the lineout, however, that they played the prominent part; if anything they ‘shaded’ their formidable opponents there. Several times I noticed the Springboks actually win the lineout only to have the ball taken away from them. Manawatu’s loose forward work will compare favourably with most Provinces. I thought McKenzie, Fell, Newman, and Powell well up to the best standard. The home backs failed as a division, but too much praise cannot be given to Edlin for his plucky efforts to get his rearguard into action. The old story of lack of penetration by the insides was Manawatu’s misfortune. Waldin made many fine saves, but usually had too many oncoming opponents to attend to.”
“Manawatu Daily Times,” Palmerston North: ‘It was pre-eminently a match in which experience told, the superior tactics of the Springbok forwards and the greater pace of their backs enabling them to outstrip the provincial side which was far stronger than the result indicates, and indeed carried nearly all the attack for the first twenty minutes. Though the run of play was closer than the totals suggest, the South Africans scored a decisive victory. In the first spell Manawatu, with the breeze behind them, held a territorial advantage. Their forwards, ably led by McKenzie, shared the honours of the set scrums, and if anything had the better of the lineouts. The South Africans, however, backed up to a man, and with great support from Brand, who never looked like making a mistake all the afternoon, they proved their defence much too sound for Manawatu to penetrate. The Springboks’ backs were all good and they handled with confidence. Their passing rushes, however, were usually smashed before the ball reached the wings. Craven, Harris, Lyster and Brand appeared the best backs, and Louw, Lotz and Bastard the best forwards. Bester did not see much of the ball until late in the game, but then proved himself a resolute and resourceful wing. The forwards always played as a pack and always gave the impression that they had plenty in reserve. In the second half the Springboks had more command of the scrums, winning nine out of thirteen, and they had a similar superiority in the lineouts. This enabled them to attack with comparative impunity even from their own twenty-five, an advantage which bore fruit in twenty points scored in the last sixteen minutes. This freeedom in handling was in marked contrast to their tactics in the early part of the game, when White, Harris and Lochner all kicked into touch as the ball came out to them from the scrum. Short punting was another tactic exploited to advantage; the visitors ran deep before kicking, so that Waldin never had the leisure that Brand enjoyed in getting rid of the ball. Manawatu held their own during most of the first spell and at times in the second, but if this is not the Springboks’ strongest team then New Zealand will have to produce their best to take Test honours. Yesterday the Springboks were just an ordinary team until opportunity offered. Then forwards and backs became brilliantly active and took a power of stopping. Of a team beaten but not disgraced, none deserves praise more than Edlin. With the scrums repeatedly wheeled against him, he got the ball away cleanly time and again, and was also a strong tackler despite his disadvantage of weight. Waldin played magnificently for the most part although he inevitably suffered by comparison with Brand. His touch kicking was almost above reproach. Finlay was the most brilliant on attack, his resource and consistency in following up every opening being noteworthy. The hard-working forwards bore the brunt of the Africans’ attack in the second spell, and only tireless scrummaging enabled them to keep a hold on the game.”
From “South Africa’s Greatest Springboks” by John E Sacks. Pub. Sporting Publications 1938. P.106-110.