June 6 1981

Scotland win well in Christchurch.


In their fourth tour match Scotland, somewhat surprisingly, defeated Canterbury 23 – 12. It was a heartening win for the tourists, who the previous Saturday had lost a close game against Wellington, coming a week before the first test.

credits...Herald Library
Scottish hooker Colin Deans 4 tight heads.

“Interest now centred on how the visitors would perform against Canterbury. Despite finishing a modest seventh in the previous year’s championship, the home team was never an easy proposition on Lancaster Park. An early-season trip to Australia had seen them beaten by both Queensland and Queensland B, and a 9-9 draw with West Coast was not an auspicious start to the 1981 domestic season. Of the forwards, John Ashworth and Graeme Higginson were All Blacks, and Murray Davie and ‘Jock’ Hobbs were to gain that honour later. Don Hayes, who had taken over the captaincy from Alex Wyllie, had been a New Zealand Junior in 1978. The inside back trio of Steve Scott, Wayne Smith and Kieran Keane were All Blacks, and further out, Victor Simpson and Robbie Deans were to gain national selection.

Not surprisingly, the Sects selected a shadow test team, although there was some doubt about the fitness of Irvine, lain Paxton and Laidlaw, who did not train with the side on the day before the match. There was some speculation that Alan Lawson, who was scheduled to arrive on the morning of the match, might be drafted into the side. Irvine was eventually replaced by Dods, but the other two were passed fit to play, and Lawson was named as a reserve.

Fine weather continued to favour the tourists and the ground was in good order as the teams filed out in front of a large crowd of 30,000.

Canterbury started well with Deans kicking two penalties to put them out to a 6-0 lead before Scotland opened their scoring in a spectacular fashion in the 18th minute. A tap penalty taken just inside their half saw the ball sent wide to Munro, who beat Oetgen with an outside swerve, then cut back to dispose of Deans before racing away to score close to the posts. A few minutes later Scott moved away on the blindside of a scrum on his 22, but his pass was intercepted by Laidlaw, who shot away to score in a handy position. Dods was unable to convert either try and there was no further scoring before halftime, when the Scots led by 8-6.

Five minutes into the second half Rutherford sent over a dropped goal from an attacking scrum. Dods then found his kicking form and goaled four successive penalties. including one mighty effort from 50 metres. Canterbury. after a poor performance through the middle 40 minutes of the match, came to light near the end with a good try. From a lineout at halfway both backs and forwards handled and three rucks were won before Smith burst over. Deans added the conversion but the Scots had chalked up a convincing 23-12 victory.

The Scottish forwards had taken control up front, and Rutherford’s hoisted kicks put considerable pressure on the Canterbury defence. The lineout count was nearly two to one in the Scots’ favour, and Colin Deans picked up four tightheads. Laidlaw and Rutherford had formed an effective combination, but because of the latter’s tactics, little was seen of the outside backs.

The home team disappointed its fans with a lacklustre display. The local forwards were beaten by a wide margin. and the ease with which Tomes outpointed Higginson in the lineouts was a worrying sight for the All Black selectors. Wayne Smith was the one star in the Canterbury performance, and his skill and direction must have cast doubt on the selectors’ decision to play Eddie Dunn at first five-eighth in the test.”

The teams.