November 27 - 1926 NZ Maori have narrow win at Leicester

The 1926/7 New Zealand Maori was having mixed success in England. But on a gloriously fine day at Leicester, after a poor first half, the Maori came back well for a narrow but deserved win.

From “Maori Rugby 1884-1979” by Arthur H Carman. Pub. 1980 by Sporting Publications. P. 216-218.

“CLOSE GAME AT LEICESTER An Exciting Second Spell Maoris win by two points

The match between the Maoris and Leicester this afternoon started off very poorly, but during the second spell developed into the most exciting game of the tour. The weather was gloriously fine, and about 15,000 people turned out to see the contest. Leicester started off very strongly, and their backs were handling very accurately, the Maoris being forced to defend most of the spell. The New Zealander’s play was very poor, there being no dash or determination in their work, but in the second spell they came to light with their best form. Their passing was good, while the forwards played with great dash, and with a little more luck they would have run up a bigger score. The last quarter proved very exciting. The Maoris were 5 points down in the first spell, and soon drew within two points of their opponents. Then to the surprise of the Maoris, “Doctor” Wilson potted a neat goal, being promptly “mobbed” by his companions in their delight. A minute later however Leicester regained their lead with a converted try, but the Maoris came back and managed to obtain another three points by means of a try, and the scores were level, the result depending on the goal kick. The Maoris had been kicking very poorly all afternoon, Potaka, Phillips, and Peiham all missing shots. Love was therefore entrusted with the kick, and justified the confidence placed in him by kicking a brilliant goal and giving his side a well-earned victory.

Form of the Players

Potaka played as full-back again today, but was clearly not at home in the position. He gets out of position through not anticipating the direction of the play, and also is inclined to kick wildly when pressed. His tackling however is sound. Phillips played well on attack, and ran with determination, but was uncertain several times on defence. Pelham played a steady game at centre, but again lost a try by passing infield when Falwasser on the outside had a clear run in. Falwasser played in patches, but his running was not so blind today. The best back was Kingi who played a fine game right through. He made many openings on attack, and has proved a tricky player. It is also refreshing to watch his low tackling. Wi Neera did all that was asked of him, while Love has also improved behind the scrum getting his passes away more smartly. Bell played as an additional five-eighth most of the game and combined very well with Kingi, the pair getting through some very neat work in the latter part of the game. The forwards commenced rather poorly, but improved as the game proceeded. The packs were evenly matched in the scrums, and line-outs though the teams failed to obtain cleanly from the line- outs. As with other teams in Britain, the forwards were good at dribbling, but the short-passing of the Maoris was a powerful factor in the second spell.

The outstanding player in the Liecester team was H. D. Greenlees, outside half, who played a great game on attack and defence throughout. Time and again when things looked bad for Leicester this player came to light with a good save, or a kick to touch, while he was also the mainspring of the passing rushes. The referee, Mr G. Hale of Bristol, gave many doubtful decisions, and stopped the play far too much. He was inclined also to get in the way of the players a lot.

The teams were as follows: Maoris: Full-back W. Potaka Threequarters H. Phillips, D. Pelham, A. Falwasser; Five-eighths H. Kingi, D. Wi Neera; Half E. T. W. Love; Wing-forward R. Bell (captain); Forwards 0. Olsen, T. Dennis, W. Wilson, W. Rika, T. Robinson, J. Manihera and S. Gemmell.

Leicester Football Club: Full-back L. C. Sambrook; Threequarters W. E. Farndon, 0. 0. Bryson, C. E. A. Flewitt; Five-eighths H. L. V. Day, R. A.Buckingham; Halves J. C. Russell, H. D. Greenlees; Forwards F. D. Prentice, D. J. Norman, E. G. Coleman, Guy German, A. H. Greenwood, M. G. . Christie, and F. V. Beamish.

H. L. V. Day is an English International player.

As at Falmouth, Kingi led the “haka” in the absence of Haupapa, but he is not so “terrifying” as the veteran. Leicester play the New Zealand formation, placing the extra man in the backs, their rearguard consisting of two halves, two five-eighths, three threequarters, and a full-back. Shortly after the commencement the Maoris also took up the same formation. Good footwork, and a passing bout took Leicester to the Maori line where Greenlees was held of up. In their eagerness to clear the Maoris got offside, and Prentice kicked a goal from a handy position. Maoris 0, Leicester 3. Leicester again attacked but Potaka picked up well, but his clearing kick was poorly directed, and play returned. A passing rush enabled Flewitt to gain 50 yards but Falwasser caught him from behind with a great dive. The Maori forwards drove upfield with the ball at toe, but Sambrook saved brilliantly. Dennis led a loose rush and then hung on to the ball, and almost immediately the Leicester backs dropped the ball near their own line, enabling Pelham to dive over, but the referee brought the players back for a scrum. A passing rush by the Leicester backs took play the full length of the field, Phillips saving by going across and forcing Flewitt into touch in the corner. A period of slow uninteresting play followed, and Potaka failed with a shot from a penalty from a handy position, Another attack by the Maoris saw Wi Neera dive short for the line, and then a passing rush by Leicester again took play to the other end, for a score this time. The ball reached Farndon at half-way, and he made a great run down the line, swerving in to Potaka as he came across, beating the full-back with an outward swerve and running round behind the points. It was a great try. Prentice converted and Leicester had an eight point lead, Bell was now playing as a five-eighth, and the Maoris were putting more vigour into their work. From a line-out at half-way, Phillips passed the ball to Love and the half cried “homai” and came round the head of the line. Love passed back to Phillips who made good ground but put his foot into touch in endeavouring to beat the full-back. The Maoris were not to be denied however, and from a scrum close to the line Love passed to Bell who sent Falwasser over for a try. Pelham failed. Immediately Pelham sent Phillips over, but the pass was forward, and after Phillips failed with a free kick half-time sounded. Maoris 3, Leicester 8.

Early in the second spell, Falwasser brilliantly fielded the ball at half-way, and running 25 yards punted and allowed Kingi to send out to Phillips. The wing was blocked and so came back across the field and passed to Falwasser near the posts for that player’s second try. Pelham missed an easy kick, the ball hitting the cross-bar. Robinson then got away with the ball and shortpassing took play to the line where Bell passed to Falwasser but the wing dropped the ball as he crossed. Both sides made desperate endeavours to improve their position, and eventually Pelham picked up and made a good run with Falwasser in attendance. He passed infield to Kingi however who was smothered, but immediately Wilson picked up in front of the posts and potted a neat goal. Maoris 10, Leicester 8. Leicester regained the lead immediately however, the ball passing through four players to Prentice who scored and converted. Maoris 10, Leicester 13. The Maoris were determined to win and after Phillips had just failed to score in the corner, Falwasser made another run, and Bell forced his way through and passed to Gemmell. The forward put his head down and pushed his way over for a good try. Love kicked a great goal and the game ended soon after with the Maoris attacking. Maoris 15, Leicester 13.”

Wampy Bell - wing-forward and five-eight

Albert Falwasser - scored two tries