The McLook rugby collection

A personal collection that tells the story of Springbok rugby

28 July 1976 - Western Transvaal 3 / All Blacks 42

Oliën Park, Potchefstroom.

Fine, cool, light north-east breeze.

Crowd: 24 000.

Referee: Mike Kessel (Natal). 

Teams

  

 Western Transvaal

 

All Blacks

 

15

Basil Keevy

1 penalty

Laurie Mains

1 pen, 4 con 

14

13

12

11

Johan Bonthuys

Mike Brussow

George Person

Jannie van der Merwe

 

Neil Purvis

Bill Osborne

Lyn Jaffray

Bryan Willams

1 try

1 try

 

1 try

10

9

Schalk van der Merwe

Martin Benade

 

Doug Bruce

Lyn Davis

 

1 try 

8

7

6

Piet Ellof (Capt)

Giel Ellof

Jakkie Jacobs

 

 

 

A Sutherland(C)*

Kevin Eveligh

Lawrie Knight

 

 

1 try 

5

4

Dries Coetzer

Richard Owen

 

Frank Oliver

Gary Seear

 

1 try 

3

2

1

Sakkie Raath

Warren Jevon

Okkie Oosthuizen

 

Kent Lambert

Graeme Grossman

Billy Bush

 

Lineouts

Rucks

Tightheads

Penalties

2

1

0

7 (5/2 per half)

23

11

1

27     (8/19 per half)

*     Sutherland was replaced by Leslie in the 78th minute. The Western Transvaal backline still used the old numbers system with the centers wearing 11 and 12 and the left wing No13 on their backs. My sources differ with regard to the two All Black wings Bryan Williams and Neil Purvis; one source put Purvis on the left wing and the other one Williams. Williams normally played left wing and only moved to the right when Grant Batty played so I’ve put him on as No11.  

Before the game incidents/issues/stuff 

The NZRFU ruling that the All Blacks should fly out of Durban on the Sunday following the test was changed, and after spending the day on the beach, the players travelled to “Potch” via Johannesburg on the Monday morning. 

Potchefstroom and WTVL rugby looked after the AB’s and the kiwis was much impressed with the carafe of fresh orange juice and a giant bowl of fruit every morning in each players room. 

Run of play 

Time

Event

Score

2nd minute

Osborne try.

0-4

6th minute

Keevy penalty, 36 m.

3-4

16st minute

Davis try.

3-8

21st minute

Mains penalty, 22 m.

3-11

42nd minute

Williams try, Mains convert.

3-20

45th minute

Knight try.

3-24

65th minute

Seear try, Mains convert.

3-30

68th minute

Leslie try, Mains convert.

3-36

72nd minute

Purvis try, Mains convert.

3-42

Williams failed with two attempts at penalties from 51 and 45 m. Bruce was wide with a second drop goal. Coetzer failed with a penalty as did Keevy (from just 22 m) and Bonthuys with two more. 

About the match 

This match was interesting for a number of reasons. First impression of the 42-3 smashing (including scoring 7 tries) the All Blacks gave Western Transvaal was that it was a rebound reaction -after the disappointing loss in the first test- against one of the weak South African provincial sides. 

There was however much more to this game than meets the eye. 

There is and was significance for many New Zealand journalist in the fact that the 1976 All Blacks produced their best form by far on tour against WTVL. Immediately after the match it was speculated as to whether New Zealand's performance in this match was an indication of a changed approach. 

Was the tougher meaner attitude evident of the All Blacks forwards going to set the tone for how they are going to play for the rest of the tour? 

As it turned out the tougher meaner attitude was certainly evident for the rest of the tour but the team was not able to reproduce the form which they showed against Western Transvaal. 

It is in that –inability of the team to reproduce the cohesive all round form they showed in this match- that some scribes, about the 1976 tour, find significance mostly because Alan Sutherland was appointed Captain for this match. 

Sutherland –a man many thought would never again play for New Zealand after some off the field antics and some remarks he made regarding both Leslie and the current All Black coach in the media- was a surprising choice as Captain and it was without a doubt a special moment in the career of this old school hard core New Zealand forward's life. 

General perspectives is that his attitude, leadership and inspirational leading from the front had much to do with the way in which the killer instinct came out against Western Transvaal. “There is only one way to lead a team,” said Sutherland, “and that is to have the blokes tearing down the walls of the dressing-room before you hit the field. For me, Rugby is a hard game. So you play it hard. Bloody hard!” 

Western Transvaal was no walkover in 1976. Their early efforts of the year, in which they lost against Natal and Eastern Province, had been succeeded by thrilling victories over both Northern Transvaal and Western Province. 

Their strength was undoubtedly in the pack with future springbok prop Okkie Oosthuizen as well as Warren Jevon and Sakkie Raath in the front-row and a loosetrio of Piet Ellof, Giel Ellof and Jakkies Jacobs who was brilliantly complemented by Martin Benade at scrumhalf in the matches against NTVL and WP. 

The All Blacks was well aware of the danger posed by WTVL but under Alan Sutherland’s leadership the All Black forwards took WTVL on up front. The All Black scrum devastated WTVL, the non-test lineout men Frank Oliver and Gary Seear winning the line-out battle 23-2 and the All Black loosies the ruck contest 11-1. 

The All Black forwards to a man stepped-up and you could have thrown a blanket over them as they drove into rucks and mauls. When WTVL resorted to underhand tactics –Kevin Eveleigh being kicked in the head; Sutherland rudely trampled and Kent Lambert receiving a boot in the face the All Blacks took no-nonsense. 

It also didn’t take them long to figure that the key to WTVL success in the scrum was Jevon with some slant tactics in the front-row. 

McLean has this excellent piece on Jevon: 

When some of Jevon’s unpleasant activities became even more disturbing than the constant warbling for penalties called by Martin Kessel messages of gloom began to impinge on Jevon’s ear.  

If the situation was not straightened at the next scrum, so he learned, it would at the one after; or maybe the next after the one after. Jevon’s brow creased in anxiety.  

He had begun play as a burly man, singularly broad of shoulder. Now, before all eyes, he seemed to be wilting, turning into a little prairie flower not at all anxious to do anything but get the hell out of it as fast as he could. Came the moment when actions succeeded words.  

The front row parted and Executioner Oliver struck. Jevon did not ask for more. He lay in a glimmer with a broken nose and some badly bruised vitals.  

Eveleigh preferred not to have the large gash in his scalp -which was bleeding profusely treated- until his horrified team mates insisted with the result that he smothered most of the forwards with his blood. 

The backs, relishing the endless stream of good possession gave a sparkling display and ran in some fine tries starting in the second minute of the game when Bryan Williams rocketed through at centre to put Bill Osborne across. 

The last 15 minutes of the match yielded 18 points with tries by Seear, Leslie, and Purvis all converted by Laurie Mains. 

Doug Bruce and Bill Osborne play tricks during the WTVL game. 

 

Bryan Williams slipped though the centers to create the first All Black try within 2 minutes after the game started. For his own try in the 42nd minute Williams used his exceptional strength to haul two defenders across the line. The WTVL player on the ground in this photo is Johan Bonthuys.  

Gary Seear scoring his try in the 65th minute with left wing Jannie van der Merwe in close attendance.  

Andy Leslie scoring in the 69th minute despite the attention of one of the Western Transvaal players. 

 

The most encouraging display of all was perhaps from Laurie Mains who, after two early mistakes, gave a dashing attacking performance and started to land his kicks from all over the park.         

After the game reactions/occurrences 

The one eyed refereeing by Kessel (27 penalties against the All Blacks and only 7 against WTVL) caused some furrowed brows in the All Black camp but not even that could take the gloss of this performance. 

The disgraceful behavior of a moronic minority of naartjie throwers, who pelted Kiwi supporters and players with a torrent of the fruit, left a decidedly sour taste in the mouth of many New Zealander, who had risked so much to keep the rugby bridgeheads open. 

The huge victory was tempred by the injury to Sutherland. There was talk of replacing Sutherland and sending the big Marlborough studmaster home. As it turned out, Sutherland was back in action the following Wednesday against the star-studded South African students XV at Loftus. 

Coach Jay Jay Stewart and the rest of the team were in buoyant spirits the night after the match and the beer flowed with some lusty singing on the 120 km bus drive back to Johannesburg. 

The tour was back on track. 

The All Blacks had desperately wanted a reassuring win at Potcheftroom to bolster their morale. Now came the biggest provincial test outside of WP so far on tour. 

Transvaal and Gerald Bosch was waiting at Ellispark.

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