August 11 - 1887 Wellington v Canterbury

Wellington hosted Canterbury at Newtown Park on August 11 1887, the fifth meeting between New Zealand’s two oldest provincial unions. The Evening Post was there to report, in quite some detail, on the encounter.

A match underway at Newtown Park Circa 1887



The fifth annual match between Wellington and Canterbury took place at Newtown yesterday afternoon, and resulted in the defeat of the visitors by four points (a goal and a try) to three points (a goal). The game was a most interesting one from start to finish, and was thoroughly enjoyed by a concourse of spectators numbering fully 4,000, about a third of whom were of the fair sex. The weather was beautiful, and much to the surprise of the majority of people, the ground was in first-class condition, notwithstanding the heavy rain on the previous day.

The respective teams were as follows:

Canterbury: Full back, W. Richards ; threequarters, W. Allardyce, E. L. Francis, and H. Wilson ; halves, H. Roberts and G. H. Helmore (captain) ; forwards, H. J. Beswick, W. Bean, — Blanchard, W. Dow, G. Harris, J. Horner, W. Moir, W. Sutherland, and H. Hiddleston.

Wellington: Full back, D. Gage; threequarters, F. Fairbrother, G. Cooper, and M. Moorhouse ; halves, A. Merlet and and C. Richardson; forwards, J. M. King (captain), and J. E. Smith (wings), H. M’Intyre, T, R. Ellison, F. Moore. R. Taiaroa, S. Cockroft, J, Crowell, L. Storey. Messrs. P. P. Webb and W, Cotterell acted as umpires, and Mr. C. A. Knapp as referee.

King, captain of the Wellington team, commenced proceedings by kicking off from the northern end at 3.20 o’clock, and Wilson made a smart return, sending the ball into touch at the half distance flag. On the leather being thrown in, the Wellington forwards dribbled it over Canterbury’s 25 line. Some loose scrimmaging followed in front of the goal. Richards, the full-back of the visiting team, at length picked up, and endeavoured to kick well up the field. The ball, however, struck an opposing forward and bounded back, and Wellington were within an ace of touching down. After some more scrimmaging inside the 25 line, the Canterbury men forced down. The game at this time had not been played longer than 10 minutes. The ball having been kicked out, Taiaroa obtained possession of it and dashed away in the direction of Canterbury’s goal-line. The Canterbury men, however, were on the alert, and he had not gone any distance before he was collared by two of the visitors, who grassed him in fine style, A scrimmage was formed, and Richardson kicked the ball over Canterbury’s 25 line. The Wellington forwards followed up well, and Taiaroa obtained a mark close to the corner flag. The leather was placed for M’lntyre, and although the angle was an exceedingly difficult one he kicked a beautiful goal, a feat which elicited tremendous applause. Some of his own side were so elated that they carried him shoulder high in the middle of the field. Bean, of Canterbury, having kicked out, Gage, Wellington’s full back, smartly returned the leather, Roberts receiving it and making a mark. The kick was entrusted to Francis, who sent the ball wide of the goal. The mark, it is only fair to explain, was obtained near the touch line, consequently the angle was not a good one, although not more difficult than in the case of the goal kicked by M’lntyre. The ball was again kicked out by Canterbury. Taiaroa collared it and endeavoured to run in. He was, however, very quickly brought to earth, and the leather was kicked over Wellington’s 25 line towards Cooper, who missed it. A. scrimmage was formed, and a mark obtained by a Canterbury man. The ball was again placed for Francis, who made another unsuccessful attempt. In this instance, however, the leather just went over the post, and many of the spectators were under the impression that Canterbury had scored. A few minutes after the kick-out. King charged Helmore, and knocked the wind out of the Canterbury skipper, who lay prostrate on the ground for three or four minutes, play in the meantime being suspended. Helmore continued playing until the end of the game, although suffering considerable pain, and right up to the last he did good service for his side. Soon after his ‘accident’ he got the ball and made a fine run towards Wellington’s goal line, dodging five or six of the enemy before his progress was stopped on the 25 line. On being collared, he passed back, but as none of his team had followed up well, the ball fell to the ground, and was quickly dribbled into the centre of the ground. Helmore, however, again secured it and ran it up to Wellington’s 25 line, where he passed to Francis, who took an unsuccessful pot at goal. As soon as the ball had been kicked out, Fairbrother made a grand run for Wellington, dodging and fending in fine style, but finding that he would be collared, he kicked into touch at the half distance. A good deal of loose scrimmaging followed, and eventually Roberts secured a mark for Canterbury. The mark was obtained near the 50 flag, and Roberts took the kick himself, sending the leather up to Wellington’s 25 line. Blanchard followed up well for Canterbury, and was making his way to Wellington’s goal line, when he was collared by Taiaroa. Immediately after this the leather was kicked along the ground to Francis, who picked it up, ran a yard or two, and sent it flying over Wellington’s cross bar. The kick was a beautiful one and Francis justly deserved the applause which the spectators bestowed upon him. At the end of the first 30 minutes the scores were equal, each side having a goal to their credit.

For several minutes after the kick out the play was confined to neutral territory. Fairbrother at length obtained a mark, and kicked into touch. On the lineout Helmore took the ball, and finished a short run by passing to Francis, who transferred the oval to Wilson, from whom Roberts received it. Roberts was thrown into touch close to the corner flag. Wellington cleared their line, but in a few moments Canterbury were again inside Wellington’s quarters. Fairbrother, however, relieved his side by a good kick into touch at the half distance. After some fine drop kicking between the backs of the respective teams, Moore passed to Cooper, who was run into touch in endeavouring to get over Canterbury’s 25 line. The spell then ended, both sides being still equal.

Bean opened the second spoil by kicking off for Canterbury. Cooper did not make a. smart return, and Wellington were almost forced down, the visiting forwards having followed up quickly. Wellington, however, cleared the line, and some scrimmaging followed near the half-distance flag. Richardson kicked the leather into Helmore’s hands. Moorhouse received it from the Canterbury skipper, and kicked into touch at Canterbury’s 25 line. Roberts obtained a mark for Canterbury on the line-out, and kicked into touch well up the field, towards Wellington’s goal. From a scrimmage which followed the throw-in, Merlet obtained the ball, and was streaking through the Canterbury men in his well known style when he was collared. Wellington now made a rush, but the attack was repulsed, Helmore and Francis showing up conspicuously for the defenders. Smith (wing forward) was thrown into touch near Canterbury’s 25 line in endeavouring to touch down for Wellington. A few moments subsequently M’lntyre gave him a pass in the centre of the field, but be was grassed before he had gone any distance. A grand rush of the Wellington forwards carried the ball up to within ten yards of the Canterbury goal fine, but the leather having been called back for off-side play, a scrimmage was formed near the visitors’ 25 flag. The ball coming out of the scrum, Moorhouse took a kick at it as it rolled towards him, and sent it spinning within a couple of yards of the post. Fairbrother followed the kick, and Wilson only forced down in the nick of time. Moorhouse obtained a mark from the kick out, and kicked well down the field. Allardyce received the ball but was collared by King before he could either kick or run. From the scrimmage which followed: Wilson, familiarly known as ” The Baby”, received a pass, and got away very smartly, but was collared after getting within 10 yards of our 25 line. Canterbury dribbled inside Wellington’s quarters, and after some exciting play near the goal Gage forced down. The next feature of the game was another rush by the Canterbury forwards, who, however, were prevented from getting over the 25 line, Merlet stopping the invasion. Some loose scrimmages followed, and Canterbury, playing without wings, forced the Wellingtons back, and Cooper was obliged to forge down. Soon after the kick out, Smith made a fine run, and, being well backed up, the ball was carried to within a few yards of the Canterbury goal line. A packed scrimmage ensued, and Moore, Smith, and Storey carried the ball over the line, Storey touching down amidst tremendous applause. M’lntyre was again entrusted with the kick, but was unable to place a goal. The attempt, however, was an excellent one. Two minutes after this Wellington again got a rush on, and Canterbury were once more forced down. On the kick out, Fairbrother received the leather, and was running towards Canterbury’s goal line when he was collared by Allardyce. A rush by Canterbury followed, and Wellington were obliged to touch down in self-defence. Wellington made several rushes during the remainder of the time, but they were never able to get across the Canterbury goal line, and the game ended in favour of Wellington by a goal and a try to a goal.

The Canterbury backs were better than ours, but their forwards were not nearly as good as those belonging to Wellington, Francis was undoubtedly the best back player in the visiting team, his drop kicking and punting being splendid, while he stopped several rushes very cleverly indeed. Helmore (captain) started well, but getting disabled somewhat his usefulness was considerably impaired, Being hurt early in the match he could not play throughout really well, and had he not met with the accident the result of the game might have been different, as he is acknowledged to be one of the best footballers in Canterbury. Roberts (an old Wellington man) was never seen to better advantage. His punting and marking were first-class, and his collaring was all that could be desired. Allardyce was either out of form or else he failed to get shows. Those who recollect his grand play in the match against Wellington at Christchurch two years ago could not but admit that his performances yesterday were disappointing. Wilson (“The Baby”) is a most promising three-quarter, and will be heard of again. The best forwards were Bean, Dow, Horner, and Sutherland. Of the Wellington backs, Merlet played the best game. Fairbrother did well, but was not at his best. Gage had little to do as full back, but whenever he was called upon he was smart, and never made a mistake. Richardson certainly made no mistakes, but he did not appear to be in the pink of condition. Cooper played poorly. Moorhouse played a fairly good game. The energy with which every one of the Wellington forwards played was most creditable. King, Taiaroa , M’lntyre, Cockcroft, Storey, and Moore, were, however, the pick.

From the subjoined list it will be seen that Wellington has won three out of the five matches which have taken place up to the present:

1876 – Played at the Hutt. Won by Canterbury by 18½ points to 1.

1879 – Played at Christchurch. Won by Wellington by a goal to a try.

1883 – Played at Wellington. Won by Wellington by a try.

1885 – Played at Christchurch. Won by Canterbury by a goal and a try to nil.

1887 – Played at Wellington. Won by Wellington by a goal and a try to a goal.”——-10–1—-0–