December 8 - 1945 'Kiwis' have good win against RAF

Magnificent defence by the 2 NZEF “Kiwis was a feature of their match against the RAF in Leicester. That and three quality in a five minute burst gave the New Zealanders victory against a side including some quality players, one of whom, centre Bleddyn Williams, was to go on to great heights for Wales.

From “Broadcasting with the Kiwis” by Winston McCarthy. Pub. By Sporting Publications 1947. P. 41-42.

“9th Match v Royal Air Force, at Leicester This was the first time we ran into Gilthorpe the hooker— alack-aday! He’s quite good. More important still we saw the celebrated Welsh centre, Bleddyn (pronounced ‘‘Blethyn’’) Williams. We saw quite a lot of him in. this game, and a few games later. Bleddyn is a really grand footballer.

Eight changes were made in the “Kiwi” team—four each way. Cook was due to have an off-day, and he chose this day to have it. Not, mind you, that he was bad; but he made a mistake or two that one doesn’t allow either he or Scott to make. Both are quite definitely in All Black class. Saxton, too, had more or less an off-day. Kearney must have impressed the Selectors in the previous game, because he was again given a place at five-eighth. Anyhow, one look at the back-line will tell the story—the ‘‘Kiwis’’ knew they were up against tough opposition.

Two New Zealanders played against us—Maurice Goddard and Ian Botting—and both of them were members of the New Zealand Services Team. Each was looked on as paramount in his position; in fact, Goddard was, in many quarters, regarded as Smith’s superior. Sykes and Peel had played against us for England. After the game we wondered why John Thornton hadn’t also. Beamish, the back-row lock—a good one—is a brother of the Irishman who was in New Zealand with the British team in 1930. The full-back, Keith Geddes—who played a great game— later captained Scotland against the ‘‘Kiwis.’’

Now for the game itself. We seldom saw the ball from set play; and our rucking was not yet up to the standard that was later to be a feature of our play. We defended a lot; in fact, our defence was magnificent. Proctor proved one of the finest defensive players one could wish to see. If there is any doubt about this, I would (respectfully) refer you to “Morrie’’ Goddard: —he knows! Nelson must have enjoyed this game, so too did Arnold and Finlay. Haigh received an early injury, and a little later Sherratt received a suspected broken nose. He played on. Goddard, after a few Proctor ‘‘blitzes,’’ also had to receive medical attention. My impression of the game is series after series of attacks by Royal Air Force being frustrated by counter attacks by the ‘‘Kiwis’’ from their own goal-line with Smith master of the situation. Three tries only were scored. The first after 30 minutes, the second after 33 minutes, and the third after 35 minutes. Three tries in five minutes—and each one was a gem. After Smith had made a bid for the line on the left wing, Arnold sent Argus across on the blind-side of a scrum. Cook missed (3-0). From the kick-off, Royal Air, Force started an attack. A dropped pass was picked up by Proctor who sent to Kearney. Kearney passed to Smith on his left, Smith to Arnold, on to Finlay, who scored. Cook again missed (6-0). Then came a real thriller. The kick-off went to Finlay, who sent it straight to Kearney. Kearney sent it on, but was outside on the left to again receive it. Out it went again to the left wing to Argus. Inside the twenty-five, Argus in-passed to Kearney, who let go inside to Saxton. Saxton actually had two men on him when he received the ball, but he received and passed in one movement to Arnold, who scored by the posts for Cook to make it 11-0. And that was all the scoring. Not bad for five minutes. But I did like that last try with Kearney handling the ball three times. Both sides went near to scoring many times, but. there was no doubting who were the masters.”

*On the day of this match three of the “Kiwis” and one soon to be a “Kiwi” (Bob Scott, Ron Dobson, Norm King and Morrie Ingpen) were playing for the New Zealand Services club against Maesteg in Maesteg. Perhaps it was just as well they did, NZ Services scraped home 6 – 4.

Jim Kearney - handled the ball three times in one movement