v Wales at Cardiff Arms Park, Cardiff
No New Zealand team had ever beaten Wales at Cardiff. I don‘t think that worried the “Kiwis” much. The ground was firmer than it had been in the two previous games; and although Kearney—the idol of Cardiffians—was unfortunately unavailable through his Cardiff injury, the inclusion of Proctor at second five-eighth certainly gave us every reason to be sure of a. solid defence and a copy-book link between Smith and Allen. Saxton was back in the side, and his presence, plus his eye-opening passes, meant much to the team. Sherratt and Argus were logical choices for the wings—Argus in particular was still showing real All Black possibilities at this stage of the tour. Smith—oh, how this team owed to Smith—was at centre, and Allen was, next to Smith, the best back in the side. He improved with every game.
A new combination was brought in for this game—Young and Rhind going in as locks. They had locked together against R.A.F. and no doubt Rhind’s report on the experiment gave them preference over the Woolley-Johnstone combination. Be it said that both played well and that we got more or less a fifty-fifty break in the scrums. So the weight must have been in the right place! Actually there were only three changes from the EngIand game—Argus replacing Boggs, Scott for Cook, and
Young instead of Woolley. It says volumes for Proctor, who having played six out of 10 games at second five-eighth, the next three at half, came back for an International as second five-eighth. It makes one wonder why, when we came back to Wales in February, he was not played against Monmouthshire. Proctor – the perfect link—is one of the greatest defensive players I have ever seen; and he didn’t have to kick for touch to show up on defence! There wasn’t a player in the team who didn’t deserve his place; and I think each one proved it on the day. What a pity Finlay doesn’t concentrate on side-row play! With Arnold and Finlay on the sides, you would have to talk very hard to get me to think you could find a better pair. Although Blake played fine football on the tour, most of his effectiveness developed from .line-out and the rucks. Simpson, hard, tough and strong, if he keeps going, must be an All Black. Rhind’s value to the team was more apparent in each match he played. Young at this stage, was beginning to come right. His tendency to anticipate play often took him as far back as Scott, but with his physique, speed and hands, he is worth his place in any team, and I would concentrate on him also as a back-row lock, knowing full well that when play became loose he’d be in everything.
Everyone told us we were lucky Hadyn Tanner wasn’t playing—he had been refused leave from Germany—but believe it or not, the ‘‘Kiwis’’ would have welcomed his presence in the Welsh side, not only because they regarded him as the best scrum-half they met on the tour, but also because at all times they were keen to meet the best. And that is not, “poppy-cock.” As it was, Wales fielded a strong back-line, with the Cardiff insides, Darch, Cleaver and Bleddyn Williams, forming the spear-head. Les. Williams, of Royal Navy, was the other centre; W. E Williams (Newport) and Graham Hale on the wings; and the best full-back in the four countries, Lloyd-Davies, at full-back. The best forward on the ground was Manfield—a danger at all times. ‘‘Young George’’ Travers was hooker. His father, George Travers, died a week previously when listening to the broadcast of the Cardiff match. ‘‘Young George’’ played his last game for Wales this day, signifying before the game that this was his swan-song. He was connected with an incident that will always remain with me. You must understand that Travers was about the six-foot mark and roughly 14 stone 7 pounds. During a loose Welsh attack in the second spell, Stan. Young scooped up the ball about 15 yards from the right-hand touch and swung towards the touch-line. Seeing a bit of daylight he straightened up near the side-line and ran very hard from just outside his twenty-five. Travers planted himself in Young’s path about the ‘‘Kiwi’’ 10 yard mark, but Young ran straight at him and laid him as flat as a pan-cake, without even faltering in his stride. After going another 25 yards he put a high one up towards the Welsh goal posts, and it was only Bleddyn Williams who prevented Arnold and Finlay from making Young’s run a Rugby classic.
As usual the Welsh spectators started proceedings with their wonderful singing. “Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau’ ‘—phonetically its very nearly “My En Wilard Va Nadai”—the title of the Welsh National Hymn, and there is nothing in the world to touch it as sung by 30,000 Welshmen. Both the Rt. Hon. Peter Fraser and Lieut.-General Sir Bernard Freyberg, V.C., were present, and both were accorded an ovation by the highly expectant crowd.
The “Kiwis” got down to business from the word go, and there were some anxious Welsh moments. Lloyd-Davies had to force quickly following a kick through by Smith; and there was an audible sigh of relief when Scott landed a long-range penalty just in front of the posts. But the tourists were lucky when Stephens, from almost half-way, put a great kick just outside the posts. Sherratt crashed the corner flag twice in two minutes From backline passing, and the Welsh were fortunate to relieve the pressure. wjth a penalty. An attack by Wales took play to the “Kiwis” line but audacious passing in front of their own posts by the New Zealanders caught Wales napping, and the ”Kiwi” siege began again. At half-way, Allen cut through .between Cleaver and Les. Williams, and the ball went through to Sherratt. He in-passed to Saxton, and when the half was confronted by Lloyd-Davies he sent Finlay across the line unopposed; but it was a forward pass—and it was great football. There was no score at half-time, but the “Kiwis” should have had a lead. Just after the re-start, Scott was a bit wide with another 45-yard kick. Two minutes later, five yards inside the New Zealand half, Lloyd-Davies kicked a beautiful goal. Wales 3; “Kiwis” nil. For the next 10 minutes, Wales tried everything to score, but the “Kiwis” defence was magnificent. Allen made a couple of breaks, one in particular nearly bringing a try, but Bleddyn Williams touched down in the nick of time. Lloyd-Davies was superlative and many were the times he and he alone saved the Welsh line; which makes it all the more tragic that he should be the last Welshman to play the ball before the winning New Zealand score came. He was standing in the middle of his own ten yard line when New Zealand secured from a scrum on their own 10 yard line. Proctor got in a short, high punt as the defence came at him. He and Smith ran after the ball, and Lloyd-Davies was forced to kick hurriedly with his left foot, for the Welsh left-hand touch; it was a low, hard kick, and nine times out of ten would have skidded into touch. But Sherratt had his ideas too. He took the ball, in his hands, at top speed, when it was shin-high. That was on his 10-yard line and five yards from touch. Then came one of the most thrilling runs of all time. Looking neither to right nor left, but with his eyes glued on the goal-line 70 yards ahead, he set sail with the weight of his fourteen colleagues on his shoulders. Lloyd-Davies went after him, so did Graham Hale; the nearest “Kiwi” was Smith. .The others stood where they were and cheered- and yelled encouragement to the big winger. As he got to the corner, Sheratt swing in towards the posts to touch down for a try that must rank with the greatest ever. Scott goaled and New Zealand was ahead. There were only eleven minutes to go, and that was the end of Wales. Scott made it complete by kicking two 45-yard penalties to give the “Kiwis” a victory (11-3), and the honour of being the first New.Zealand victors over Wales at Cardiff.”
From “Broadcasting with the Kiwis” by Winston McCarthy. Pub. By Sporting Publications 1947. P. 53-55.
“Wales were unable to play two of their best backs. Hayden Tanner, the wonderful halfback, was unable to obtain leave from garrison duties in the British Army on the Rhine, and injury precluded the appearance of the Cardiff captain, Jack Mathews. Otherwise, the best Welsh players were available.
The ground was packed although capacity was greatly reduced because of severe damage to one of the two large stands by wartime bombing. An emotional atmosphere pervaded the scene with the singing of hymns creating exciting enthusiasm.
Both Freyberg and Peter Fraser were present for the game, which was entirely appropriate. Freyberg’s dream, which may have come to nothing without the ultimate permission of the Prime Minister, was being realised.
The Kiwis knew full well that to win they must command enough possession to allow their backs every opportunity to run.
And then came the extraordinary turning point which sank Welsh hopes. From a scrum, Saxton threw a crisp delivery which found Proctor who lofted a kick which put Lloyd-Davies on his mettle.
The hapless fullback was about to experience the moment of truth, for Arnold from the left and Smith from the right were coming at top speed and getting very close. Lloyd-Davies was, so to speak, at the apex of a dangerous triangle.
He took the ball and under the extreme danger of Smith and Arnold moved to his left and kicked with for touch — just in time. His left-foot kick was one of low trajectory. It should have found the safety of the touch. However, it did not.
Sherratt, lurking out in the sector of its descent, advanced quickly and, grasping the ball at bootlace height, bent over like a staple, broke into a run five yards from the touchline. Still stooped, he sped on past halfway. He gradually straightened and really clapping it on, streaked away from two desperate defenders by a whisker.
The supporters screamed support and the Welsh fanatics were choked with bewilderment. The race was really on; Sherratt keeping ahead of his pursuers by a yard. He then began to turn, crossed the line and took the shortest route to score a try in a million under the cross-bar, then sauntered back to his own half while Scott nonchalantly placed the conversion. Kiwis in the crowd were ecstatic, jumping up and down with the sheer joy of the event. And then Scott rubbed salt into the Welsh wound by finding
the mark with two penalties, one from 40 yards, the other from 35 and, like Sherratt, he became a ‘Bloody beaut’ as well.
A titanic classic match was won 11—3.
Rhind went to retire under the stand and looked up in time to see a nasty little cloth-capped Welshman spit down on him. Young and Arnold recalled similar insults.
In the dressing room all was exhausted hilarity when the door opened and in walked Freyberg, Fraser and the Colonel.
‘You did us proud, boys. This is a great day,’ and with that Freyberg slammed a 10 pound note on the table. Fraser, all smiles, which was not his habit for he could be a frosty character, moved around the players.
‘Are you going to shout Peter?’ urged Stan Young, whereupon the Prime Minister reached into his pocket and matched Freyberg’s gesture. Fraser was not known to do such a thing often, if ever!
The Welsh do not forgive easily because Lloyd-Davies never again appeared for Wales. And then despite the pre-match hype they adopted the contrary view that the game had not been a true International anyway.”
From “KHAKI ALL BLACKS” by Mike Whatman. Pub.2005 by Hodder, Moa, Beckett. P. 58-60.