May 17 1919
Maori Pioneer Battalion start tour with win.
Formed during World War I the Maori Pioneer Battalion played in England, Wales and France during and after the conflict. Back home, they started a nine match New Zealand tour with a win over Hawkes Bay.
The Hastings Standard reported the occasion at length, but had remarkably little to say about the players.
PIONEER BATTALION v. HAWKE’S BAY. CIVIC WELCOME.
There was a very large gathering of football enthusiasts at McLean Park, Napier on Saturday to witness the match between the Pioneer Battalion Football Team and the Hawke’s Bay Representatives. Considerable interest was taken in the match, as this was the first game the returned soldier team had played since their return to their native shores. Prior to the teams taking the field the Napier City Band escorted them. from the dressing shed to the field facing the stand, where a civic reception was accorded the visitors. The Mayor (Mr. J. V. Brown) briefly addressed the men and stating that their prowess both on the battlefield and on the football fields in England and France had preceded them. He was sure that their return to New Zealand would give the game a fresh start, and that they would keep up the great reputation that they had gained for themselves in the Old Land. He wished them every success in their present tour.
Mr. W. J. McGrath, president of the Rugby Union, also addressed the Pioneers, paying tribute to their splendid achievements on the battlefield and on the football field.
Taranaki Te Ua also addressed the team, and the officer commanding the Battalion briefly replied, thanking the citizens for the enthusiastic way in which they had welcomed them. The Pioneers had proved themselves sports on the battlefield and he was sure they would prove themselves equally good sports on the football field. The Pioneers felt, honoured at the reception accorded them. He thanked the Mayor for has kind remarks.
Following were the teams :
Pioneer Battalion. Full back, Private H. Hingston ; three-quarters, Lieut. Wilkinson, Lieut. Apanui and Sergeant Mapu; five-eights, Lieut. Barclay and Sergt. Barclay; halfbacks, Lieut. Jacob and Corporal Edwards; forwards, Corporal Te Urupu, Lieut. Ormond, Lieut. Gardner, Captain Hall, (capt.), Corporal Pirihi, Lieut. Auhana and Sergeant Carroll.
Hawke’s Bay. Full back, Findlay ; three quarters, S. Mitchell, B. Grenside and S. Peina; five-eights, Bowes and Tait; half-backs, H. Batchelor and M. Pere; forwards, Edwards, Tairoa, Jones, Apperley, Downing, A. Kirkpatrick and E. Berry.
Mr. A. Williams had charge of the whistle and Messrs M. Wood and Smiler acted as touch line umpires.
Hawke’s Bay won the toss and elected to play with the wind in their favour. Very soon after the commencement of the game Hawke’s Bay were awarded a penalty kick, the kick at the goal being successful, Hawke’s Bay 3, Pioneers nil. From this out to half-time no further score resulted, the local team having the best of matters, and should have scored on more than one occasion had they not been over anxious. In the second half the local men held their own until towards the conclusion of the game, when the All Blacks asserted themselves and having the wind in their favour, forced the game, with the result that they obtained two tries, one of which was converted, the game thus ending. Pioneers 8, Hawke’s Bay 3.
The Maori Pioneer Battalion team of players did not give us of their best in Saturday’s match. The consistent mulling of passes by the last man in attack, when a score seemed certain, was far below what should be expected from a team with such a splendid record in the Old Country, and which, as its manager seated at the reception prior to the match, expected to succeed against the “All Blacks.”
There was, however, plenty of an educational element in the team’s tactics and style of play, for our local players to take, to heart. The smart footwork, made of delivering and taking passes, running and swerving, and throwing in from touch, were incidents which, had not their combination gone amiss, as stated above, would have proved disastrous to the home team. I give the fullest credit to the local forwards for their brilliant collaring, and particularly the manner their consistent following up nullified their opponents efforts to open up the game. The local forwards’ quick, solid defence and tackling saved their side throughout. Not on one single occasion did the local backs display the remotest sign of collective combination although, individually, they did well. There was not seen throughout the four short spells one passing bout attempted by the local backs, although more than one opportunity presented itself. Individual, and oft times selfish, play predominated, although it is only fair to state that Findlay’s clever and unselfish pass, to Peina (who was always neglected, but on this occasion proved his worth) was a most refreshing incident. This selfish method is the outstanding weakness in all local football matches, and until the time arrives when our players will recognise this and make up their minds to study and concentrate their thoughts on this one important branch of Rugby, Hawke’s Bay can never expect to take a high place in football as it should, and can be played.
I am not going to judge the Pioneers on Saturday’s performance, it was one of those peculiar days which at times, befall a champion team. (I could quote similar cases in inter- Colonial matches) and Hawke’s Bay was fortunate enough to meet such a team on its off day—many of the spectators predict defeat for the Pioneers on their Dominion tour, but I am of opinion that they are a vastly superior team of players than they demonstrated on Saturday. They possess tactics and all the other necessary elements to carry them out successfully which will present them in a striking manner and make them a formidable combination when they strike their proper form. Their clean methods will also make them popular in all their matches.”
(“Hastings Standard, Volume IX, Issue 130, 19 May 1919, Page 2)
Pioneer Battalion 8. H Hingston, H Jacob tries. Jacob conversion.
Hawkes Bay 3. C Findlay pen. goal.