December 22 1888
“Natives” beaten by Wales
After three wins in the North of England whilst based at Manchester the “Natives” moved to Wales for the first time and lost to Llanelli by a dropped goal to nil. The next match was against Wales in miserably wet conditions and though the “Natives” dominated play at times they were eventually beaten by a superior Welsh combination.
“NATIVE TEAM v. WALES
Again the Welshmen proved too much for us, though we certainly did not put our best team in the field. The weather at Swansea was trying – being very wet and miserable.
The contest between the Maoris and the Welsh internationals came off on the Swansea Football Ground on Saturday afternoon. The match was announced to commence at 2.45, but at three o’clock neither team had appeared on the field and the “gate” was by no means as large as might have been expected considering the interest taken around the event. The places sacred to the sixpenny patrons of football were very much better attended than the south bank, which was reserved for those prepared to pay 1s. About a minute after three o’clock the Welsh team entered the field, looking as fresh as paint in their white pants and scarlet jerseys, and a few minutes afterwards the New Zealanders appeared, and were accorded a very hearty reception, The Maoris were altogether heavier than their opponents, though their black uniform did not show up so well against the green sward as the attractive dress of the Welshmen. As the game proceeded, crowds came trooping in, until the whole area around the field became black with spectators. It was estimated that not less than 7,000 people were present. The kick-off by the Maoris, and the return by the Cwmry were both fine kicks, and the play for the first minute or so was exciting — the ball travelling pretty well all over the ground. Wales soon extracted a minor from a long kick, and shortly afterwards a loud cheer announced that a try had been scored, and by Towers, who it is said only got into the team by the skin of his teeth. First blood was therefore drawn by a Swansea man, The point was improved upon, Webb kicking a goal from just in front of the posts. The Maoris showed splendid exhibitions of passing, but this did not pay —ground being lost. Soon George Thomas was sent sprinting along, and another try was recorded in favour of the Welshmen. The place kick failed. The Welshmen now showed some splendid dribbling, but this was met by some clever work by one of the Maoris, who played the ball with his knees right across the ground. Play for some time ensued near the half-way flag, but the Maoris by pressure carried the play into the Welsh 25. From a scramble a Maori got across the line, but was carried quite ten yards back into half-way. The advantage, however, was but momentary; the Maoris again pressed, but Stadden relieved, and at halftime the ball was in neutral territory. For the last ten minutes the Antipodeans had clearly the best of the game, but the defence of the Welsh was too good to allow scoring.
The second half commenced in a shower of rain, which, with the high wind, rendered the play unpleasant. The proceedings for the first few minutes were uninteresting, the Maoris having slightly the best of the game. The Welsh forwards, however, by a combined dribble, carried the ball into the visitors’ 25, but only to have it returned to half way. Shortly afterwards a most exciting piece of play was witnessed. Williams, the mammoth Maori, began a dribble, which was carried over the Welsh line; a try seemed imminent, but George Thomas gaining possession of the leather, by a grand strong run, carried the ball back to neutral territory, where he kicked. The Welsh forwards followed up well, and a try seemed inevitable, but the New Zealanders saved well. Shortly afterwards Nicholls, by a grand dribble carried the ball across the line. Warbrick tried to touch down, but losing it, Nicholls fell on it and secured a try, which was not converted. The Maoris then made a determined effort to score, forcing the play into the Home 25, but relief soon came. The scarlet and white boys now began to press and Stadden by a grand run, nearly got in. A minute or two later Wales got a free kick, but this was charged down, and the Maoris worked up towards the Welsh goal line, but a Welshman kicked into touch, and time was called, Wales proving victorious by 1 goal, 2 tries, 3 minors, to nil. The cheering which greeted the result was hearty, and the players were escorted from the field by an admiring crowd. Towards the end of the play the light got bad, and it became difficult to distinguish individual players.
“The following are the details of the game.
“Hill kicked off towards the entrance end, and Gage returned into touch at the 25. Two closely fought packs ensued. The Maoris dribbled down to the centre, when Wales. for off-side play, obtained a free kick, and a minor resulted. After the kick-out, Keogh, McCausland, and W. Wynyard did some tine passing, but thanks to the grand tackling of the Welshmen no ground was gained. Arthur got away, but when chucking to George Thomas, lost the ball. Keogh threw to W. Wynyard, who ran to the centre. G. Thomas, by a punt, lost ground for Wales, but this was rapidly regained by passing between Arthur, George Thomas, and Briggs. A scrimmage ensued in the 25, where Towers, picking up, performed one of his inimitable tricks, and finished by grounding the ball over the line, amid tremendous cheers. Webb took the place and easily converted. Williams kicked off, and Arthur, making a feeble reply, packs took place in dangerous proximity to the Welsh goal. George Thomas, by a short run and kick, promptly relieved; and J. Warbrick was tackled by Towers before he could reply. Immediately after, George Thomas, picking up in Home territory, ran along the touch-line at terrific speed, and eluding all pursuit scored a try, which Webb failed to improve upon. Williams kicked out. and Stadden obtained a free kick at the half-way flag. Webb made a good attempt at goal—a minor resulting. McCausland kicked out, and Ellison made a strong run, into the Welsh half, Stadden passing out to Arthur. who transferred to George Thomas. The latter kicked to J. Warbrick. The Maori back failed to return well, but Lee, by a fine dribble, carried the ball down the ground. Nicholls replied with an equally fine dribble, but J. Warbrick, McCausland, and Gage passing beautifully, ran into the Welsh territory. Keogh obtained a couple of ‘frees,’ and play was kept for a few minutes in the Welsh half. A. Warbrick dribbled down to within a few yards of the Welsh goal, but Stadden and Garret relieved. McCausland obtained a mark, and the Maoris continued to have the better of the game. Elliott made a gallant attempt to get over the line, and Ellison actually got over, but he was carried back into play. George Thomas, allowing the ball to go between his legs, placed the Welsh goal in serious danger. Half-time score: Wales—1 goal, 1 try, 2 minors; Maoris, nil.
“Williams kicked off for the Maoris, and the visitors had the best of the game. Keogh attempted to pass to McCausland, but Towers stepped in between, and dribbled the leather down to the centre. A short delay occurred, Charlie Thomas being temporarily laid up, but he soon resumed his position. Arthur now badly missed Elliott, who made a fine run along the touch-line; Nicholls, who was in grand form, however, by a very effective dribble regained the ground thus lost. George Thomas ran back twenty yards, and again the Welsh 25 was the scene of operations. Arthur, by a run, took the ball to the centre, and a grand combined rush carried the ball down to the Maori end. A magnificent dribble by Ellison and Lee was the next piece of fine play, and a try seemed inevitable for the visitors, when George Thomas, coming to the rescue, made a grand run to the centre, amid great applause. Bland, Nicholls, and Bowen rushed the leather over the Maori Line. J. Warbrick fell on the baII, but failed to make it dead. Towers, running in, kicked the ball further on, and Nicholls, promptly falling on it, obtained a try. Webb made a bad attempt at goal. F. Warbrick and W. Wynyard, by a couple of really magnificent runs, got the ball up to the Welsh line. The visitors forced play for a few minutes, until a free kick brought Wales relief. Arthur ran down to half-way. but Ellison and Elliott, by strong running, gained part of the lost ground. W. Wynyard, who was far and away the best of the visiting three-quarters, now got away capitally, but the Welsh forwards carried the leather rapidly back. Gage was now conspicuous for some clever defensive play. Stadden—pretending to pass—deceived the Maoris. and almost got over the line before being brought down. The Welshmen obtained a mark, and the ball was placed for Webb, whose kick was, however, charged down, and the Maori forwards
rushed into the Welsh 25. Ellison, Lee, Williams, and Karauria, using their feet very cleverly, trundled the greasy ball over the ground at a rapid pace, but Webb proved smart enough to pick-up and drop into touch. The thick misty rain which now fell made it very difficult to recognize the players. It was evident, however, that the New Zealanders were keeping the ball well outside their territory, until the referee’s whistle announced that the game, which had been most stoutly contested throughout, was now over.
Score: Natives – Nil
Wales – 1 goal, 2 tries, 3 minors.
The immense crowd of spectators who had witnessed the encounter heartily cheered the players on both sides as they left the field for the Swansea baths.”
From “RUGBY FOOTBALL AND THE TOUR OF THE NATIVE TEAM”, compiled by T Eyton. Published 1896.P. 41-4.