“A dark and threatening sky. with falling barometer, yesterday morning, caused followers of Rugby to fear the .worst in view of the Southland-Australia game in the afternoon, but. fortunately, there was no need for regrets, as after a few drops of moisture had fallen, the afternoon turned out fine, and it was not until the public and players had returned to their homes that heavy rain came tumbling down. A brisk north wind kept the rain clouds at bay until late in the day.
It is a long time since previous visits of teams from the Commonwealth —Queensland. 1896, and New South Wales. 1901—consequently there was a keen desire to see the Australian combination of the present tour in action, and the attendance was large, being in the neighbourhood .of 4,000. In the previous games mentioned Southland defeated Queensland by 23 points to 3. and New South Wales by 17 points to nothing, hut since those days Southland Rugby had suffered a set-back from various causes, and the general public hardly expected to greet success to the home side yesterday, despite the confidence of those who had to do with the building up and management of the team. However, a clear-cut win resulted in favour of the home players and their victory was well received. but the spectators did not forget to applaud the efforts of the visitors, and their speed and open style of play drew forth rounds of applause, in fact, many people openly declared in favour of the game as played by the Australians, forgetting at the same time, that the weather and grounds in this part of the world have forced a solid, but none the less effective idea of Rugby upon its local followers. Had the day turned out wet. the truth of this contention would have been forcibly borne in upon those present. At the same time, the game was probably the fastest in big football ever witnessed in Invercargill, and it yielded rapid change of scene and sparkling incidents to the fullest extent. The attendance was above the average and the gale receipts amounted to nearly £2OO.
The Dominion Band were in evidence during the afternoon, and contributed a number of musical selections. Prior to the commencement of the principal event a curtain raising game was played between the premier teams of the Eastern and Western districts respectively, Pioneer, from Gore, beating Nightcaps (W.D.), by 8 points to 3. The winners will be called up to play the Invercargill team leading for the Wednesday premiership for possession of the Sports Protection League. banner for the current season.
Details of the play are as follows; — ‘SOUTHLAND (13) v. AUSTRALIA (8). (Maroon) (Light Blue)
The game was played on No. 11 area In front of the grandstand. The ground was somewhat soft and sodden in the north-west corner and again to the north-east, but in other directions could only be classed as holding. The ball remained dry throughout and easy to handle, despite a strong northerly breeze which prevailed some points from the west and thus assisted the side playing from the entrance or western end.
The teams were as follows: AUSTRALIA —Full-back: R. Simpson (N.S.W.) ; three-quarters: K. Carr (X.SAV.), H. Jones (N S W), J. Flynn (Q.), D. Suttor (N S W.) ; halves: L. Wogan (N.S.W.), F. Wood (N.S.W.) ; forwards: H. George (N.S.W.), C. O’Donnell (N S W.). A. Williams (Q.), K. Fahey (N.S.W.), C. Wallach (N S W.), W Cody (N.S.W.), F. Thompson (Q.), P. Murphy (Q.).
SOUTHLAND —A. Martin: T. Baird; A. McNeece, A. Grant; five-eighths; P. C, Edmondson, N. Stead; half-back: R. M, Stead: forwards: J. Ridland, E. Biggar, F. Holmes, T. Clark, F Whitaker, J. McNeece. C. Barry, E. Edginton (winger).
For the sake of brevity we have omitted the lengthy run of play section of this report.
A McNeece and Whitaker scored tries in the first half, the latter converted by Martin
Half time. Southland 8 Australia 0.
Early in the second spell McNeece scored his second try, Martin converting. 13 – 0.
Wood scored for Australia from a lineout, Murphy from a scrum. Simpson converted.
Full time. 13 – 8
COMMENT ON THE PLAY
The game provided a very interesting and engrossing exhibition of the difference in styles of Rugby play followed in Australia, and the southern par! of Maoriland at least. The visitors, who look for a dry ball and firm ground, open out at evey available opportunity, throw the leather about with an almost reckless disregard of consequences, and use their highly cultivated speed all the time, while they field the hall in cricketing fashion with surprising pace on. and their catching is clean and beyond reproach. On the other hand, they are not fond of going down to rushes – this is almost impossible in Australia if a player would last any time – affect a four three-quarter line, which often appears to contain too many players, unless very accurate and well-timed infield passing is resorted to, and the forwards work out for loose play and passing off the line-outs where close dribbling and bundling would as often as not prove more payable. Overhead the one-handed transfers also appear attractive, but the former discloses the attack. and the latter are very hard to gather .successfully. The home backs do not scatter, back up. and take risks like the Australians, but play on strict lines of procedure with short, two-handed passing, consistent line – kicking, and deadly man for man tackling, which is nearly always effective if carried out sharp and low. All are expected to go down to rushes without hesitation, and should they fail to do so they hear of it from the side line. Southern forwards are expected to spread to aid their rearguard under certain circumstances, and as a finish to their own rushes, but in the main they are set to perform a wedge formation from line-out, bunching, and tight work, and in the loose are coached to use their feet skilfully, and smartly in dribbling. Clirnatic conditions as often as not call for effective dribbling, and in this department of the game Southlanders have reason to excel. As each representative game has come along this season – Maoris, Canterbury. South Canterbury, Wairarapa, and Australia. the local pack have shown improvement in this soccer style of football, and they are now coming into line with some notable combinations of bygone years in this direction, a fact to be noted with satisfaction in view of engagements to come, and a touring season to be faced next year. The hard and fast Southland game, by the way. would be improved with speedier backs, but these are not always available, however, there is no reason why the bright example of the Australians in getting the ball clearly and smartly away from line-outs and scrums yesterday, should not be taken up and practised unceasingly. Defeat in the north has often met southern touring teams from the lineout alone, and by very substantial margins at that.
Coming to the players, the Australians were splendidly backed up in the rear by full-back R. Simpson. He paced, eluded, and sidestepped the incessantly charging Maroon forwards very nicely, and it was through no fault of his that the game went the way it did. Of the wings, Suttor was always trying and made some fine dashes, while he kicked smartly and tackled hard and effectively. Carr showed speed to perfection, but did not get many chances of displaying his best paces owing to the tackling of hls supports with precision in-field. He conveyed the impression to the onlookers that they would very much liked to have seen more of him. Flynn kicked, tackled, and ran well, but Jones was not so prominent, probably being unfortunate in time after time falling into the arms of the enemy of the opposing pack. Wood played a delightful game behind the Blues’ scrum, and opened out the play right and left with unusual smartness, while he was never afraid to stop rushes, but the writer took a great fancy to the tactics of Wogan. He invariably turned up where danger threatened most, was always there to take his pass, and kicked, tackled, and ran brilliantly. He and Wood were an ideal pair, and it was a pleasure to see them at work. Both are quick in action. Wood particularly so, and their tactics time and again brought forth the approval of the crowd. Wallach was easily the best of the forwards, and his display on the line-out was well above the average, while he played his part well in the press of the struggle. Fahey and .Murphy came next in order, while Williams also caught the eye. but George appeared to look on at times when his services were in urgent request elsewhere. The visitors obtained the ball fairly well in the scrums, particularly when attacking close to the local line on several occasions, and it was evident that they knew a thing or two about this department, such as putting in the leather for example. It has already been remarked that the Southland forwards played well, and it may rightly be said that they bore the brunt of the fray. They tired towards the end of the first spell, and again ten minutes before the close of the game, but this was only to be expected under the circumstances. The backs showed great improvement on past displays, and their tackling was one of the features of the game. Time and again they crowded the Australian three – quarter line together, and grassed the man engaged in the transferring business most effectually.
RUGBY’S OPPOSITION IN AUSTRALIA.
END OF LEAGUE GAME IN SIGHT,
The teams dined together at the Albion Private Hotel in the evening, the President of the Southland Union (Mr H. Treseder) occupying the chair. After the loyal toast of “The King” had been honoured Mr Eustace Russell proposed the toast of “The Visitors.” The manager of the Australian team, Mr Morgan, thanked all for the very hearty welcome extended to the visitors. He also congratulated the Southlanders on that day defeating very nearly the best team that had ever left Australia. He had no desire to make excuses. They were there to give of their best, but the heavy grounds of New Zealand were a factor to be considered. There was no team that had ever left Australia in better condition than the men who were before them that evening. (Applause). Up to the present his was the happiest team that had ever left Australia, and he trusted that the good-fellowship would continue throughout the length of the tour. Touching upon the advent of the League game in Australia Mr Morgan said that as a rule the Rugby supporters never mentioned the opponent game or gave it assistance in any way whatever. But, nevertheless, his listeners had no idea of what the Rugby Union had to fight against. Under the most ideal conditions the gross takings at the star attraction in Rugby circles , viz., N.S.W. v. Queensland, was £55. But still the Rugby authorities were not dismayed. They were .iust as keen now as when they had thousands of pounds at their back. (Applause). The Rugby code was not going to die out. He, the speaker, could already see the end of the League game, although not altogether at the immediate time. With the class of men In the Rugby game Australia could do without money. Mr Morgan said that he was confident that if a team were asked to come to New Zealand, under the auspices of the Australian Union, and the men to pay their own expenses the response from the players would be such that half a dozen teams would come over. (Applause). Other toasts proposed – and responded to were “Southland Team,” “Referee,” “The Ladies,” “The Press,” and “The Chairman.”‘