August 22 1928
WAIRARAPA RETAIN RANFURLY SHIELD
Wairarapa had won the Shield from Hawkes Bay in 1927, lost it to Manawhenua later that season, then won it again from Canterbury in 1928. Wellington was their third challenger and the Evening Post’s “Drop-Kick” was at Carterton for the match. His match report, perhaps written with a Wellington readership in mind, was:
“STILL IN WAIRARAPA
WELLINGTON’S CHALLENGE FAILS
A KEEN GAME
In challenging Wairarapa’s right to possession of the Ranfurly Shield the Wellington rugby representatives put up a much better performance than was generally expected. The issue was decided at Carterton yesterday.and Wairarapa had to go all out to win; in fact it was not until the concluding stages of a keenly contested game that the Shield holders’ position was made secure. Between 4,000 and 5,000 people witnessed the game, which was played under excellent conditions—the weather glorious and the ground in tip-top condition after the previous day’s rain. Those present included some hundreds of Wellington enthusiasts.
The performance of the Wellington team was a big irnprovement upon that against Auckland last Saturday though there were still those slips-some of them at critical moments-which are not uncommon in a team wanting a few games to work up a good understanding. The inside backs were superior as a combination to those of Wairarapa, and the play of the Wellington rearguard than that of the home team’s back division. The latter were so effectively hampered in their combined attacking movements that they adopted the policy of kick and follow up, and this found gaps, though they were usually quickly closed The defence was really good, and this was also the case with Wairarapa, who gave the Wellington wing three-quarters little chance. The usual brilliance of A E Cooke was not noticed in this game, and it was not that he was off form. Occasionally he flashed out, but for the most part he was well guarded. On defence, however, he was a livewire, frequently getting his side out of danger. One of the surprising features of the game was the manner in which the Wellington pack, heavily outweighed, worked right through the game. In the first spell there were times when the visiting forwards actually pushed the home pack for a considerable distance. Later in the game, however, the real strength of the Wairarapa vanguard was made more apparent, and in the concluding stages the vigorous rushes took a lot of stopping. Wairarapa have not infrequently finished on with a rattle, and this they did yesterday, but there was never any let up on Wellington’s part, and right to the end there was always a chance of a successful breakaway by the visitors. In changing defence to attack Porter was of great service to his side; in fact, he played an outstanding game, showing the form which made him a player of very high rank a few years ago. Hooking honours were with Wellington in spite of the fact that Wellington were penalized heavily in the scrums. The challengers had the better of the first spell, though the score was 6 – 3 against them, and in the second spell Wairarapa’s only score was a try during the period near the end of the game, when the home team was battling its hardest. While there was an element of luck in Wairarapa’s two tries, the shield holders missed several chances to goal. Wairarapa had to fight hard for their win by 9 points (a penalty goal and two unconverted tries) to 3 (a penalty goal).
The teams were:
Wairarapa: L Roach, R Jury, C Stringfellow, W Yates, A E Cooke (captain), R Sharp, I Hart, J Donald, Q Donald, K Reid, W Reside, K Fairbrother, M Willoughby, S Willoughby, N M’Gregor.
Wellington: H Cuming, E A Brown, F S Ransom, J D Mackay, E Chaney, R H C Mackenzie, J Coman, C G Porter (captain), E Jessup, E Coulston, J Shearer, E Blacker, R H Sly, C O’Regan, B Wilson.
Soon after the kick off by Porter, the Wellington forwards gained twenty yards by solid pushing, but their progress was stopped with a free-kick to Wairarapa. The home backs made little ground in a passing bout, and Porter led the challengers in another strong advance. In keen play near the Wairarapa twenty-five Wellington were awarded a free-kick, and Ransom just failed to goal with a splendid effort. Cooke, Hart and Yates set Wairarapa on the attack, but the challengers kept clear of danger. Getting to midfield again, Wellington had another free-kick, and this time Ramson landed a great goal from two yards inside half-way.
The town team continued to play well, Mackenzie showing up in one movement by “dummying” effectively. Sharp and Cooke turned the tide, and the latter dodging through the opposition in fine style, was heading for the Wellington line when he was brought down from behind by Wilson. Wairarapa were striving hard to wipe off the deficiency, and Cooke was again held up in the nick of time. With play back in neutral territory, each side had a free-kick before the Wellington backs made another attack. From a kick by Chaney the ball bounced favourably for the Wairarapa full-back, Roach, who cleared. J Donald next headed a strong Wairarapa rush, which Cuming stemmed. Three more free-kicks went to Wairarapa, and two to Wellington. In one case the free-kick to Wairarapa gave timely relief, as Wellington had been put in a good position by Coman, and were striving hard for some minutes to cross Wairarapa’s line. Another attempt by Ransom to goal was unsuccessful, and almost immediately afterwards the Shield holders rushed play to the opposing half, where Cooke kicked through. No sooner had Cuming saved than Wairarapa were given a free-kick, from which Cooke failed to goal. Maintaining pressure the home team had another free-kick, Yates this time failing. Wellington were doing well on defence, and again took the offensive, Sly, Coman, Mackenzie, Brown and Porter all being prominent. The last-named went close to getting a try. Wellington opened out again, but the backs were smothered. The play was lively, and with Wairarapa on the run Wellington’s chances of increasing the lead looked good. From under the posts, however, Roach ran.round behind his own line and made a good clearance. Two more free-kicks helped Wairarapa the second of them enabling them to draw level From nearly forty yards out Yates placed a fine goal.
The replay to this was a series of open bouts by the Wellington backs in support of pressure by the forwards. Brown, however was uncertain on the wing, and Wairarapa cleared, being further assisted by a free-kick. There was somne hard scrummaging in Wellington territory, but when the Wairapa backs were called upon they were given little chance by the opposition. A clever move by Sharp, Yates and Cooke went close to success. The home team team’s rearguard followed up with another bout, only to see Ransom make an interception and set off for the opposing line. The speedy Wellington man was stopped by Roach, and others of the home team got back in time to prevent Shearer and Mackay getting through. The challengers were battling hard, and right in front of the posts a Wairarapa player got offside in attempting to clear. The offence was missed and Wairarapa rushed play to the other end of the field. The ball was kicked over the Wellington line, the play went on with several players attemptinbg to make contact with hand, ball and ground. Finally Sharp was awarded a try, which Yates failed to convert from an easy position. Wellington had had the better of the spell, but they were three points down at half-time.
Early in the second spell Stringfellow placed Wairarapa near the Wellington line, but the visitors still battled hard, and Porter, Coman and Cuming made good clearances. A free-kick brought Wairarapa back again, and from anothber kick by Cooke the ball was sent over Wellington’ line, and it went to dead territory as Yates and Peterson raced for it. The latter player had replaced Brown near the end of the first spell, Brown having hurt a leg muscle. Wellington’s attacking powers were not exhausted by any means, and this was demonstrated by a rush by Shearer, Porter, Blacker and O”Regan to the Wairarapa line , where Cooke saved the situation. Again Cooke checked a move by Mackenzie and Chaney, but Wellington were able to hold their advantage, and when Mackensie, Peterson, and Coulston pressed on the Wairarapa line was reached. McGreger, however, had rushed back to save a try. Sly, figuring prominently right through as a breakaway, and others kept the Wairarapa defence busy until a clearing kick was fumbled. This, with a free-kick, placed Wairarapa in better ground, and a series of advances had Wellington defending hand. Porter was an extremely busy man on defence, and got through a lot of fine work. Kicks by Sharp, Roach, and R Jury kept the holders on the attack. And there was also an unsuccessful attempt by Yates to goal. In keen play the Wairarapa forwards began to play up much better, but Wellington still retaliated strongly. The Wairarapa backs were also getting more ball at this stage, though their efforts were closely guarded, especially those of Cooke, M Willoughby, Reid and M’Gregor were the outstanding Wairarapa forwards, with Hart, Sharp and Cooke supporting in back play. For a time Wairarapa were battling strenuously in attack, and Wellington were equally keen in defence. With some breakaways Wellington went far, but the advantage territorially was now with the Shield-holders. Hard knocks during the strenuous play were received by Chaney, Stringfellow, Cooke, and Porter, but all were able to carry on.. Wellington had held out well, and they were unfortunate when Ransom, in the act of a clear breakaway, was recalled. Shortly afterwards during a Wairarapa thrust Cooke was grounded and threw the ball forward. A knock-on followed, but the play went on, with the result that Q Donald dived across Mackenzie also grasping the leather. A try was given, and Wairarapa had been striving hard for it. At the same time they were fortunate in having the breaches overlooked. Yates had two attempts to convert without success.
The chances of the challengers had faded, and Wairarapa were making the finishing efforts characteristic of them. Two more bids to score and counter-attacks by Wellington were made before a keenly contested game ended with Wairarapa still holders of the shield, and the score:
Mr H J M’Kenzie was the referee and Messrs J Blake (Wairarapa) and J Moffitt (Wellington) the touch judges.