Newport, at Newport
“Ike” Proctor played his third and last match – and why his last – as a half-back against Newport. The- ground, particularly on the stand side, was deplorable. Thick, gluey mud, almost to boot-top depth on the grand-stand touch made the playing of anything an impossibility. Despite historical evidence to the contrary I’ll always feel that the ‘‘Powers that Be’’ regarded Newport as a bit of a “push-over:” Newport has always been a tough nut for a touring team to crack. Don’t forget that the 1924 All Blacks won 13 – 0 only in last few minutes of the game. And that, although the 1935 team won 17-5, the seventeen points were made up by two “pots” by Tindill, a penalty by Gilbert, a goal from
a fair catch by McKenzie, and an unconverted try by Ball to a converted try by Newport.
Maybe Cardiffians put us wrong regarding the strength of Newport. The game the side played against the “Kiwis” was no different to that usually played—let the forwards get control and keep it tight. In 1924, Newport had Jack Wetter at fly-half to play the touch-line and dictate the game. In 1946 they had a scrum-half named Hawkins. What Hawkins didn’t know about Rugby when he played for Newport he made amends for when he later in the tour captained Monmouthshire! The only reason I can think of why he didn’t play for Wales was because he had slightly bald head. Thank goodness Cliff. Porter was not overlooked for a like reason! Hawkins had everything a good half-back needs, and he realised what a pack of spoilers can do to a team that plays a “Kiwi” game. For make no mistake, these Welshmen, despite wanting to play the game for the game’s sake, are also intent on winning if they can. And if “thinking out the moves” count for anything, I think they’ve got something. The Newport forwards went out this day to control the game, and with Hawkins piping the tune they succeeded. I think the “Kiwis” made a grave error during the game. One side of the ground—the “Kiwi” right wing in the first half—was comparatively firm. The other side—the grandstand wing—was a quagmire. Sherratt, at the top of his form, had the firm ground to run on in the first spell, and it always looked as if he might turn on a winning effort. It came as a surprise, therefore, to see this long- striding winger take up his right-wing position in the second spell
on the quagmire side of the ground. Though he got chances in this spell the deep mud made him just another player.
There were eight changes in the team. King came in as first five-eighth, and he gave an admirable display both in his combination with Proctor and in his defence. That he missed a. place in the next six games—and, indeed, he played in only two more games in the next eighteen matches—is difficult to understand. Smith, of course, tried everything he knew; but handling was not a strong point with the ‘‘Kiwis”’ in this game, so Smith’s efforts went for nought. The forwards had an in and out day. Part of the time they were on top, but for the greater part of the day they played second fiddle. I liked Simpson, Nelson and Finlay, in particular; and the “Kiwis” must have been thankful to have Mr Ivor David as Referee. In my humble opinion he was the best we had on the tour. Ivor refereed us in four games altogether.
As for the game itself, let us say that Cook kicked’ a great penalty in the very first minute of play to make, it ‘‘Kiwis,’’ 3, Newport, nil. Simpson very nearly succeeded in scoring a little later, being pushed into touch a yard from the line. Grand forward play by Newport took play to the “Kiwi” line and following a scrum Hawkins slipped across on the open side. The newspaper reports said: ‘‘Morgan’s kick at goal just missed – what a pity!” Maybe—maybe!!“
From “Broadcasting with the Kiwis” by Winston McCarthy. Pub. By Sporting Publications 1947. P. 51-52.
“The ‘unlucky thirteen’ superstition certainly became reality when the thirteenth match against Newport was played on a ground that was reasonably firm on one side, but a quagmire on the other, the grandstand side.
Maybe the Kiwis were lulled into thinking Newport would not be the challenge they had faced at Cardiff. This turned out to be not the case. The deep mud hampered the Kiwi style and even Smith was reduced to playing like an ordinary mortal.
It was a torrid, forward-slugging match and much of the play seemed confined to that muddy sector along the grandstand touchline.
Cook kicked a penalty in the opening minute from a wide angle and that was the extent of the Kiwis’ scoring. Simpson very nearly succeeded soon after but he was pushed into touch just short of the Newport line.
A fracas broke out in front of the stand with Simpson in the middle of it. Things were at boiling point.
Freyberg was in the stand. He consulted his programme. ‘Andrews,’ he said. ‘Our chap in the front row, Simpson, tell him if he persists in behaving like that on the field I’ll have no compunction but to have him posted to the division in Japan smartly!’
No sooner were the words out of his mouth than Nelson hit the Newport lock, who was causing most of the trouble, with a straight left and he dropped to the ground. Johnstone was standing over him when he rose to his feet and ‘smashed’ Johnstone with a punch which dropped him as well.
There is no record of what Freyberg thought.
Near the finish the Newport captain, Hawkins, shot across for a try to even the scores at 3—3. It was not a pretty game, but at least the Kiwis had not as yet suffered defeat.”
From “KHAKI ALL BLACKS” by Mike Whatman. Pub.2005 by Hodder, Moa, Beckett. P. 56-57.