February 14 - 1946 'Kiwis' beat Oxford University

Despite an outstanding display by New Zealander Martin Donnelly at halfback Oxford University were no match for the “Kiwis”, beaten 31 – 9 (seven tries to nil). Oxford’s points came from three penalties by Donnelly.

We were all delighted to know that Martin (“Squib”) Donnelly, the great New Zealand left-hand batsman, was to play for Oxford. Those who didn’t know. him were pleased because he was a New Zealander. Those who did were pleased because they knew how good a footballer he was, and we welcomed his being able to demonstrate his ability before an English public. “Squib” played a grand game at half-back—he was, always excepting Smith, the outstanding player on the field. Is there any ball game that Donnelly can’t play better than the average player? Of course, it is an open secret that he would have been in the “Kiwi” team if he hadn’t decided to accept a bursary for Oxford. He was a Major in the 2nd N.Z.E.F.

Our “‘flu men,” Finlay, Argus and Scott, played, and each looked as if the game would do him good. Scott in particular looked very seedy. Donnelly opened the scoring with a left-foot penalty from well outside the twenty-five. Even the “Kiwis) applauded, 0-3

Four minutes later the ‘‘Kiwis’’ equalled through a try by Argus after Smith had started the good work with his usual sidestep and dummy. Scott missed, 3-3.

Argus scored again a few minutes later, receiving from King, Smith and Dobson. Scott converted, 8-3.

King started a movement from loose play after another four minutes the forwards with Simpson leading, carrying on. Finlay joined in and play went to the goal-line. From the ruck “Billy” Meates picked up and went over with Donnelly at his heels. Scott kicked the goal, 13-3. Donnelly tricked the “Kiwis” soon after, racing on the blind-side from half-way to the twenty- five, but he had no support. Then he kicked another penalty goal, 13-6, and that was the half-time score.

Eleven minutes after the second spell began New Zealand scored again. From a scrum in their own twenty-five the ball went along the backs to Smith. He left his opposite standing and raced through, connecting up with Thornton—on hand as usual—and Thornton scored for Scott to’ convert. 18-6.

Following another penalty goal by Donnelly, 18-9, Oxford began to throw the ball around like the “Kiwis” and the pace was fierce. After a kick at goal from a penalty by Scott, the ball was kicked down-field. Scott fielded it by the side line at the 10-yard mark and centre-kicked; Thornton. took it in his stride, and as he was tackled at the 25, he threw a high pass out towards the left. Dobson going at top, took the ball high over his head—having to jump for it—and dived over. It was a thriller. Scott missed, 21-6.

The next score was from a purely orthodox move and Meates scored his second try. Scott goaled, 26-9.

The final score came from a scrum and saw Dobson at his best. He played with the defence before passing in to Nelson, on to Thornton, who scored his second. Scott’s goal made the final score 31-9.

From “Broadcasting with the Kiwis” by Winston McCarthy. Pub. By Sporting Publications 1947. P. 74-75.

Johnny Smith - outstanding in this game

Martin Donnelly, a halfback or fullback, had represented both Canterbury and NZ Universities in 1940 as well as playing Services rugby in World War II.

He is better known as a cricketer, representing New Zealand 1937-49 and Wellington 1936-38, 40-41, Canterbury 1938-39, Oxford University 1946-47, Middlesex 1946, Warwickshire 1948-50. In seven tests he scored 582 runs (hs 206) at an average of 52.9 and had a first class average of 47.43. He remains one of the best left handed batsmen to play for New Zealand.