May 27 1908
Wellington inflict first defeat on Anglo-Welsh team.
Wellington scored five tries to three in defeating the Anglo-Welsh team in the second game of their tour. When Wellington got out to a 16 – 0 lead early in the second half it appeared the score might blow out. But the tourists scored the next 13 points to close the game right up before before a final Wellington try secured the win.
“RUGBY MATCH. BRITAIN BEATEN.
A FAST GAME. VISITORS’ FORM BELOW PAR.
Britain’s representatives were fairly and squarely beaten by Wellington at the Athletic Park yesterday afternoon. There were times when the visitors made the local men work very hard to save their line. These occasions were not very numerous, but they yielded three tries. On the day the invaders were out-generalled and out-classed, and the margin of six points (nineteen to thirteen) scarcely represented the difference between the teams. On the day the Wellington men, though capable of much improvement, were ten points better than their opponents. Britain was beaten, forward and back. The local vanguard packed better than the British phalanx, and was more vigorous in the loose. The local backs showed more versatility than the opposing rear guard; they were more quick to spring at an opening, they were more prompt to jump at chances and dart away, head on for the goal. At Masterton the Britons generally passed straight across the field; and even against a weak team that style did not avail much. When it was practised yesterday it was fatal. The Britons had forgotten that there was such a word as “intercept”. The nimble Wellingtonians rapidly swooped on to the ball, and were away with it in a twinkling. The play was fast, it was full of incident, and, with Wellington winning, the large number of spectators adequately enjoyed themselves.
THE TEAMS. Harding was unable to take the field, consequent upon the injury he sustained at Masterton, and in his absence the captaincy devolved upon M’Evedy. Harding’s place in the forwards was taken by Down, while Dyke filled the position taken by Smith at Masterton. The respective teams were as follow: —
England : — Full-back, E. J. Jackett; three-quarters, J. L. Williams. J. “Ponty” Jones, R. Gibbs, P. F. M’Evedy; halves, H. Laxon and J. Davey; forwards, J. F. Williams, R. Dibble, P. J. Down, E. Morgan, G. V. Kyrke, J. A. S. Ritson, J. C. M. Dyke, ,W. Oldham.
Wellington :— Full-back, George Spencer; three-quarters, H. D. Thomson, F. Mitchinson, A. Evenson ; five-eights, W. Wallace and F. Roberts ; half, C. Green forwards, W. Hardham (wing), W. Reedy, J. Hamilton, A. Wilson, D Rush, A. (“Ranji”) Wilson, H. Dewar, W. Alexander.
FIRST SPELL. Wellington won the toss, and naturally they elected to play with the wind at their backs. Britain kicked off against sun and wind, Green returning the oval to touch, near the half way flag. The first scrum was keenly scrutinised, and it was seen that Wellington got possession of the ball. This was repeated in two out of every three scrummages throughout the game. The Wellington backs made a good deal of ground after the ball came to them from the initial tussle among the forwards, and play was soon in British quarters, but here Wilson got off-side, and the free kick allowed to Britain gave them a chance to reach safe ground. Wellington soon returned to the charge, and.Britain was forced down. Dyke led the visitors’ van in a fine dribbling dash just after the kick out, and though Wellington repelled the invasion, they were soon defending again, a good run by M’Evedy, carried on afterwards by Down, being chiefly responsible. A free kick was given to Britain at a point near the middle of Wellington’s twenty-five line (a penalty for unfair putting in of the ball by Wellington), and the kick enabled an attack to be made in shadow of the Wellington goal posts. The advantage was lost through off-side play by a British forward. A charge of British backs, with passes from Laxon to Jones, thence to Morgan, and Morgan back to Jones in the order here given, was a feature of the play at this stage, and Wellington were again hemmed in. There might well have been a score registered as result of the opening that was made, but the British backs made some very faulty handling. The local team gradually beat back the invaders to half way. Here Dyke passed high — what the Welshmen term a “balloon” pass — and Wellington’s speedy little half-back (Green) rushed up and intercepted it. He ran on to. Jackett, and when the British fullback collared him he sent the ball on to Roberts, who dodged past the British left wing three-quarter and scored near the comer flag. Wallace kicked at goal and missed it. Wellington 3 Britain 0
This event put Wellington in great heart, and they were attacking again within a minute or two. The Britons worked play to the right-hand southern corner, and here Green went through the scram again, gave Hardham a neat pass, and enabled that player to score. In the rush of players that preceded this event the British full-back (Jackett) got a severe injury to his ear, which necessitated his retirement for a part of the game. As result of this Britain played only fourteen men, the rules of their union barring the taking on of a substitute, a practice always allowed in New Zealand. Wallace kicked a goal from Hardham’s try. Wellington 8 Britain 0
After Britain had rallied for a while they were again called on for defence, and after Hardham had made a good dribbling dash, Roberts came along fast, grabbed the ball, and was almost in again. After he was grassed there was a lively minute on Britain’s goal line, but M’Evedy brought relief with a pretty dodging run. Back again came the play, and a high kick by Jackett was marked by Thomson near the colours’ goal, but Hardham anticipated the kick, and for his off-side play the visitors elected to have a scrum at the spot from which Thomson’s kick was taken. Very soon afterwards Wellington had a free kick (from which Wallace tried vainly to place a goal), on account of a Briton handling the ball in a scrum. “Ponty” Jones returned to touch, and from the throw in the British pack took play to the centre, but a fine line kick by Spencer undid their work. With three Wellington men charging down on him, Morgan marked coolly and cleverly, and so averted a score. After this there was some open and fast forward work near the centre, but an “after you” example of play led to Jones and Dyke bungling a chance to mark, and while they did so the Wellington pack were again into the fold. Roberts spoilt this advantage by off-side play, and Dyke made a very fine kick which gained him applause. Britain worked up field by good line kicking and loose forward rushes by turns. Then Wallace got away with a good run, and after further scrums had followed, Roberts got the ball, put in a good sprint, and spoilt a good bit of work by refusing to part company with the leather. Ritson got in a fairly good run soon after this, but a good rearguard dash, in which Mitchinson was the leader, brought further trouble to Britain. Jones tackled well and brought him down, after which Laxon, M’Evedy, and Gibbs were concerned in a series of passes which preceded a strong run by Gibbs along the line to half way, where he was thrown into touch. Immediately on the line-out being formed the Wellington van came down field in a characteristic charge, but the Britons stood up to it, and eventually retaliated with a pretty piece of dribbling, which carried the ball back to the half-way flag. The British backs carried on play from this spot, but M’Evedy hung on to the ball too long, and a good chance to score was lost thereby. For a few minutes after this event the visitors played well, and Wellington had to work hard to keep their slate clean. Fine line kicking by their backs eased the pressure after a time, and when play had been taken to the colours’ base Green did a nice dash up the blind side of a scrum, and centred with a well-judged kick, but Jones dashed up smartly, beat Thomson for the ball, and sent it to touch by a well-judged kick. Wallace strode down the line soon afterwards, with Evenson in support, but Evenson was shouldered into touch on the eastern boundary. On this line-out the two Wilsons and Hardham (all of whom were playing well throughout) were specially conspicuous. A “mush” occurred near the British goal-line, and Green cleverly fell through a gap in the British forwards and scored a try. Wallace’s kick did not improve the score. Wellington …11 Britain … 0
Britain livened up from this stage until the call of half-time. Jones made a good run, and his good work was carried on by Laxon and Davey, things looking so bad for Wellington that a Wellington forward felt called upon to play off-side. Gibbs took the free kick, but though he made a good shot at goal he missed the crossbar by a yard or so. Wellington followed fast on the kick out, and Thomson got on a fine sprint with the ball in hand, but the ground thus gained was lost through off-side play by a Wellington forward. Loose play in mid-field ensued, and the scene was still unchanged when half-time was rung.
THE SECOND SPELL. The wind was not so fresh at the commencement of the second spell as it had been during the first. Rush kicked off and a promising movement initiated by Green ended in Roberts knocking on. J. L. Williams marked from a kick by Thomson. A series of long exchanges followed between the opposing backs. A rush by the Wellington backs was nipped in the bud by Ponty Jones, who sent back the ball with a fine kick. Roberts checked a counter attack by the Englishmen by collaring Gibbs. Play was exceedingly fast but for the most part oscieted between the two twenty-fives. Then came a sudden unforeseen evolution. The home team were awarded a free kick in midfield. Roberts with instant decision punted sharply across the field. Mitchinson snapped up the leather, passed to Wallace, who cut in and transferred to the speedy Thomson, with his low crouching run, Thomson got away and showed his opponents a clean pair of heels, eventually grassing the ball near the posts. Roberts converted. Wellington 16 Britain … 0
Most of the spectators were beginning to think it was aIl over and the only matter in doubt was the number of points Wellington would record. Others who had seen the British team in the Wairarapa match thought there might be some retaliation. There was. A high punt by Dyke came to Wallace, who for once in a while was at fault. J. F. Williams came down with a rush, beat Spencer, and taking the ball from the rebound off Evenson, after a sharp dash, got over and opened the score for Britain. Gibbs took the kick and had the misfortune to allow for the wind just as it dropped. The ball just missed the uprights. Wellington 16 Britain 3
The reds at once brightened their play, and a strenuous attack opened by Laxon and Davy was only staved off by Thomson’s fleetness of foot in getting into touch. Dyke here nearly let in the blacks by missing a kick from Hardham. In a. melee about the English twenty-five Wallace received a knock on the face and was temporarily hors de combat. A forward rush of the reds dribbling magnificently brought play back into Wellington territory. Here from a scrum Laxon passed out smartly to Davy, who gave the ball to J. L. Williams. The nimble threequarter got right away and eluding Roberts circled in and out through the Wellington defence, eventually scoring in a good position. Dyke converted. Wellington… 16 Britain 8
The game was now intensely exciting. Britain had a chance and the team made the most of it. Play went up and down the field at a killing pace. Davy stopped an onrush of the blacks by a beautiful kick into .touch. Shortly afterwards, from a mark near midfield, Roberts had a shot at goal, but the distance was too great. Green was next conspicuous in some neat work about the scrum, but he failed to make the most of one chance, when Wallace and Evenson were ready for a run, by punting. Dyke mulled, but, picking up quickly, found the line. A sensation was afforded by Thomson. Roberts picked up about midfield, passed to Mitchinson, who passed to Wallace. Thomson was in readiness and received the ball. With a lightning sprint he was away ; Gibbs after him. A race ensued. Thomson put on all he knew, but the Englishman hung on to his heels and with one dive took the All-Black by the ankles and floored him Play still kept in the English base. Green made a brilliant mark. Roberts took a short punt for the kick and there was a melee on the British line. A cheer from the crowd in that neighbourhood announced that somebody was over, but a hoot quickly following showed their disapproval of the referee’s decision. After another fierce attack the visitors broke right away. In the Wellington twenty-five M’Evedy suddenly snapped up the ball and feinting successfully, got over amid roars of applause. Another round greeted Dyke, when he landed a goal. Wellington 16 .Britain 13
The uproar was now loud and continuous, as the score was dangerously even. Only about eight minutes of play remained. The Wellington forwards were on their mettle now and came right through their opponents, who seemed somewhat tired and spent after their strenuous efforts. From a scrum near the line Roberts seized the leather, dashed round the blind side, and transferred to Mitchinson, who got over in the corner. There was a frenzy of applause. Wallace failed with the kick from a difficult angle. In a minute afterwards the game was over with the score : — Wellington 19 Britain 13.”