January 12 - 1946 'Kiwis' excel at Gloucester

Combined Services, with a number of highly rated players, were expected to trouble if not beat the “Kiwis”. But the New Zealanders turned on a sparkling display to run away with the game, with a margin no one expected.

Johnny Simpson scored a 65 yard try

“15th Match

Combined Services, at Kingsholm, Gloucester

If there was one game—apart from Cardiff—in which the “Kiwis” really were expected to be beaten it was this game. In fact the “boys” themselves realised they were up against perhaps the best team that could be selected in the British Isles. First of all we had to again face the Welsh full-back, Lloyd-Davies, Les. and Bleddyn Williams—no relation by the way— were the centres; on one wing was Anderson, who had played against us and scored for Army, and who was to score two grand tries for Scotland when we were beaten a week later; at fly-half was Constance, who had played so well in the Royal Navy game; at scrum-half was Wilson of the Army game. The forwards included Vaughan of the England pack; Gilthorpe, the best hooker of them all; Les. Manfield, the terror of the Wales game; Phillips, the best line-out forward we met; W. G. Jones, the tough Newport and Wales player; Matthews, of Navy; John Thornton and H. P. Hughes, of R.A.F. Little wonder, then, that we expected something tough. In this match the “Kiwis” gave their best display of the tour. Both sides determined to give the ball plenty of air, so consequently, the spectators, about 20,000, saw football with a thrill in it.

Taking only a short time to settle down both sides quickly tested the defence. The first thrill came when Boggs received on the end of the chain and he beat Anderson; but the Scotsman flew after him and lowered him. Again the ball went to. Boggs, infield to Smith, to Allen, but his pass to Boggs went to the ground. The pace became terrific, and going .down to stop a Services forward rush, Haigh injured his head and retired for a time. Back went the “Kiwis” again; and then from a scrum near the, twenty-five Saxton sent Allen away on the blind-side. With a side-step and a dummy he opened the way for Sherratt to beat a couple of men to score under the bar. Cook converted, and after ten minutes the. ‘‘Kiwis” led 5-0. The next try did not come for another twelve minutes, and it must go down among greats,” too. Following a prolonged siege on the “Kiwis” line, Services threw in from touch on New Zealand’s right wing less than a yard from the goal-line. The ball went to the end of the line-out where Neville Thornton picked it up and passed in to Allen who was standing on the line under the posts. You might think that risky, but not if you knew Fred. Allen; he has hands that were the despair of players in six countries. He took the ball cleanly, as .usual, and actually side-stepped Bleddyn Williams five yards from the goal-line. He clapped on speed and raced towards Lloyd-Davies who was standing in the centre of the “Kiwi” 10-yard line. As he was approaching the full-back he heard a call from his right and he “unloaded” to Simpson; What a thrill Simpson gave us. Six feet in height and a good 14 stone, he can run—or gallop rather—as fast as most backs. John Thornton. went after him, but Simpson got there. Figuratively as well as literally, ‘‘Johnny” Simpson was a fair curly- haired “boy”. that day. He had. run 65 yards to score his great try; and Cook’s boot made it 10 – 0. Within a few minutes the “Kiwis” were over again. Picking up in loose play, Smith sent Proctor over between the posts for Cook to convert (15-0). Constance had retired injured prior to this try, John Thornton taking, the right wing position, each player moving in one Just before half time, Proctor snapped up a loose ball, passed to Saxton, who sent Sherratt away for a try in the corner. Cook missed (18-0).

One try in ‘the second-half was, perhaps, the most brilliant team try I’ve seen, the ball being handled nine times before the defence was beaten and the try scored: From a serum at half-way the ball travelled to Boggs, via Saxton, Allen, Proctor and Smith; inside again from Boggs to Smith, to Proctor, to Arnold (alway there), and finally to Woolley, who scored under the bar. Cook converted (23-0). The next try was from a clean break by Arnold from a line-out. He ran to the full-back before giving Thornton the ball. Cook goaled again (28-0). Finally, Boggs scored from a back movement, after Srnith had beaten his man. No goal was kicked. Final score, 31-0.

It was a grand victory, and the “Kiwis” got the best London ‘‘Press” to date. Fifteen games without a loss. The “Kiwis” left for Edinburgh where they had no reason to believe their 16th match was to be their Waterloo.

From “Broadcasting with the Kiwis” by Winston McCarthy. Pub. By Sporting Publications 1947. P. 57-58.

“However, it was fully realised that the next foray against Combined Services would put them to yet another test because, apart from Cardiff, it was predicted that if any team was likely to beat them Combined Services would, with 20,000 on hand to witness this likelihood.

It turned out to be a thriller from start to finish with the Kiwis playing at the top of their form and scoring seven wonderful tries: the result of applying the Saxton edict of position, possession and pace.

Both Boggs and Sherratt touched down for tries that were breathtaking in their build up.

One in particular began from a scrum on the half-line, the ball quickly passing through the chain to Boggs’s wing. He in-passed to Smith, to Proctor, to Arnold and then Woolley who scored under the bar.

Previously, another try had drawn prolonged cheering from the crowd when, at a lineout near the Kiwi goal-line, Thornton had taken the ball at the rear and thrown to Allen standing between the posts. The normal reaction would be for Allen to find the touchline. But not him. Instead he took the ball cleanly and sidestepped Bleddyn Williams five yards out from the goal-line and clapped on the pace. When challenged by the fullback he heard a call to his right and passed to Simpson on the 10-yard mark.

Showing surprising speed Simpson, a large man, pinned back his ears and won the 65-yard race to score in a tackle handy to the Services posts. It was a thrilling try which Simpson enjoyed recounting recently: ‘I don’t know how l made it —65 yards is a long way for a prop!’ 31—0! The spectators couldn’t believe it.”

From “KHAKI ALL BLACKS” by Mike Whatman. Pub.2005 by Hodder, Moa, Beckett. P. 62.