June 10 1908
Anglo-Welsh struggle past South Canterbury.
v SOUTH CANTERBURY.
CHAIN OF BRITISH BACKS.
Great interest was taken in the match against South Canterbury, played at Timaru on Wednesday, June 10. The town was overcrowded with visitors, and the attendance was roughly estimated at 8000. Arthur Harding won the toss from J. Roddick, an ex-Otago player, who captained the home side.
Britain.—Full back, J. Jackett; three-quarters, J. L. Williams, P. F. McEvedy, H. H. Vassall, F. E. Chapman; half backs, W. Morgan and J. P. Jones; forwards—A. F. Harding (captain), T. Smith, F. Jackson, E. Morgan, J. P. Down, S. Thomas, G. R. Hind, H. Archer.
South Canterbury.—Full back, D. Scott; three-quarters. —G. G. Priest, G. Bradley, J. O’Leary; five-eighths, G. Coles; half back, A. Grant; wing-forwards, J. Roddick and R Rodgers; forwards—A. Ker, H. Manning, W. Canton, W. Scott, A Budd, G. Fitzgerald, W. Hooper.
Referee: W. J. Wilson (Dunedin).
The feature of the match was the fine work of the South Canterbury forwards and the superb play of the British backs. It was a game fought out desperately to the bitter end. The local side was strongly represented, having a very solid forward team, and a reliable, though not particularly resourceful rearguard. Five minutes after the kick-off Vassall, in a tackle, seriously injured his shoulder and left the field. Britain thereafter played one man short. Later in the game Harding, Archer, and Chapman also met with injuries.
The South Canterbury forwards, tall and powerful fellows, fast in the open, and demons in heavy play, jumped into the game at the outset, and for the first quarter of an hour gave Britain an anxious time. The South Canterbury pack raced the ball into the Britishers’ twenty-five, and frequently got on to the flower of the opposing backs, who threatened to crumble. When the British rearguard secured the ball the danger signal was hoisted. Too much credit however, cannot be given the local team for the fine game-they put up, particularly the forwards, and in this important department South Canterbury was quite equal to the British pack. It must be remembered that the visiting forwards were playing one man short for practically the whole of the game, and with the superior weight of the enemy could not secure the ball from the scrums. The South Canterbury backs, playing behind powerful forwards, were able to show up on attack, but lacked the pace and resource of the British sprinters in the rear division.
In the opening stages of the game the South Canterbury forwards kept the ball amongst the pack, and, playing with excellent combination, frequently bored their way to Britain’s. line. In the last twenty minutes of the first spell the British backs, securing the ball, gave a taste of their pace and resource. The passing, always swift and accurate, travelled along the chain of British fliers in the rear division with delightful precision. Rarely a man fumbled. It was superb passing, good to see. The British forwards in the second spell tired perceptibly, and were inclined to drop away at the finish. In the latter half of the second spell the South Canterbury forwards were going great guns, and playing like Trojans, but through it all and above all the British backs were in evidence, and won the game for their side.
Jackett was again the star of the British back division, and, like at Masterton, Wellington, Dunedin, and Invercargill, was the idol of the crowd. With superb line-kicking, Jackett nursed his forwards splendidly, finding touch with powerful kicks fifty and sixty yards up the field.
All the British three-quarters played well when they got the ball. Johnny Williams, the flier of the team, did not get enough to do, but he showed rare pace and skill. McEvedy was ubiquitous, and played quite one of his best games, taking the ball magnificently, and cutting in with rare resource. – Vassall had only one chance before being injured, and was. greatly missed. In the rear division Chapman played splendidly, and his try in the second spell, when, single-handed, he raced through practically the whole of Canterbury’s defence, will live long in the memories of those who witnessed it. Willie Morgan at half played solidly, getting the ball away with a flick pass to his three-quarters, while Tuan Jones, at fly-half, was in evidence with splendid line kicks, and was in-the heat of the game throughout.
South Canterbury owes its fine performance to the excellent work of the forwards in the ruck, line, and loose, of whom none stood out better than Roddick, captain of the team, and an ex-Otago player. Another fine forward on the Canterbury side was Fitzgerald, who was always in the van. The backs lacked resource and initiative, and on several occasions in the second spell lost chances of scoring. Scott at full back played soundly, but was overshadowed by his rival, Jackett, of England. The pick of the South Canterbury three-quarters was Bradley, at centre, while the stars of the back division were Coles and Grant, behind the scrum. The game was fast, always interesting, and played in an excellent spirit.
Britain ………………..12 points
South Canterbury 6 points”
From “British Rugby Team in Maoriland True Story of the Tour” by R A Barr. Published 1908 by Otago Daily Times & Witness Co. Ltd. Pp 58-60