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Reaction on first test; Eastern Province and Boland

The South African newspapers went ballistic in response to the 1st test victory. The AB team and NZ media followed the match reports in the English newspapers; as is to be to expected they were not overly ecstatic with the euphoric reactions but agreed in general with most of the post-mortem analyses. Gabriel David writes:

As can be imagined, the All Blacks scarcely enjoyed their Sunday morning reading as two DC3's carried the tourists to South Africa's famous Kruger Park. Coach Ivan Vodanovich was pensive in the back seat of one aircraft.

The Sunday Express exclaimed right across its pages - "GREAT, BOKS; YOU HAD US ALL Fooled!"

The Johannesburg Star splashed across its front page - "WONDER, THE SPRINGBOKS BEAT THE ALL BLACKS!" Inside the Star carried another bold headline "WHAT A DAY FOR SOUTH AFRICA'S MIGHTY MEN!"

Consensus was that the Springboks won the game in the first 11 minutes. The common theme of most reports was that defence and ability to capitalize on pressure induced mistakes were at least one of the reasons for the Springboks' success.

Various old Springboks and All Blacks made specific mention of the lacklustre performance of the All Black forwards. Wilf Rosenberg –Springbok centre of the 1956 team to New Zealand and rugby league player in the North of England for a number of years during which he seen the 1953/64 and 1967 All Blacks in England- could not believe the current All Black forwards belonged to the same family; “They simply wouldn’t compare”, he said.

Kelvin Kelleher –the Irish referee who send Colin Meads of the field at Murrayfield in 1967 was in South Africa at the time and watched the match- said the All Black forwards were “deplorable”: “I could not imagine that an All Black pack could play so badly” he said. He also made the observation that on occasion that All Black pack did play well there was clear signs of panic amongst the Springboks and he therefore believes that the All Blacks would win the remaining tests and the series.

The grapevine stories coming from the team had it that both Burk and Vodanovich had lashed out at the team in no uncertain terms demanding higher standards and improvements in code of conduct. Some bitterness boiled up and McCarthy a journalist for the New Zealand Truth splashed a story that the All Blacks would have to play their “meanies” to win the second test.

The AB went to the Kruger Park for three days where they largely sought to put the first test behind them and to regroup for the rest of the tour. A report in the Rand Daily Mail which questioned Laidlaw's injury and went so far as saying it was faked in order to get him off the field left the All Black players and management moderately outraged and disgusted.

From Skukuza AB travelled per DC3 via Johannesburg and East London to Port Elizabeth for their next game against the EP. It was cold and wet in PE but spirits were high there was a positive atmosphere in the AB camp.

Eastern Province officials were quite confident that they were going to be the first provincial side to defeat the tourists but the All Blacks saw it was a chance to vindicate the debacle of the first test.

All Blacks 49 / Eastern Province 8

Eastern Province fielded a few Springboks including Hannes Marais the incumbent Springbok prop as Captain; Gawie Carelse a previous Springbok lock; S Cloete a previous Springbok tourist on hooker and Eben Olivier a previous Springbok centre in the backline. 

Gawie Carelse

 14 Test (1964-1969); 1.97m; 112 kg; Played 102 matches for Eastern Province.

Gabriel David’s account of this match can be summarized with these few paragraphs:

At the after-match function following the drubbing the All Blacks gave Eastern Province, the home captain and Springbok prop, Hannes Marais was not being altogether facetious when he said that the tourists played such magnificent rugby that quite often he stood still and enjoyed it.

The match produced the best rugby the All Blacks have played on this tour and some of the tries were exceptionally brilliant. Bryan Williams could well vie with Prime Minister Vorster as the best known personality in South Africa. This olive-skinned tornado on the All Black wing was the sensation of the match today. His two tries were masterpieces, incorporating speed, elusiveness and an incredible ability to deceive an opponent.

He continued and described both of Bryan Williams tries; solo efforts, created out of nothing with sheer individual brilliance.

Bryan Williams against Eastern Province

This try by Williams can be seen by clicking on this link.

Terry McLean provides the following sketch of Bryan Williams in the Eastern Province match:

And Williams –ah, what a man! When Laidlaw fielded a kick-out in the twenty-fourth minute, he passed to Williams 70 yards short of the Eastern Province goal line. With sidestep and speed, Williams beat Heunis and Adlam and sped to a try.

At the very end of the game, Williams, partly by his own fault, missed a pass from Davis. With his back turned, he accidentally kicked the ball with the back of his foot a yard or two up the field. When he turned and picked up the ball, he was 60 yards from goal, moving slowly, and cover-defenders were gathering like vultures.

By strength, sidestep and magical artifice, he beat five men, one after the other, who valiantly tried to tackle him. As he spun out of the last tackle, he had only 15 yards to go to the goal-line and by now Eastern Province were so completely flummoxed that he was able to walk there to score.

Surprisingly, McLean then goes on and state that the tries was not the most impressive part of Williams’s performance; the greatest part of his game was actually when he -on cover defence- tackled the fast and elusive ex-Springbok centre, Eben Olivier, preventing what looked like a certain try. An awe struck McLean goes into delightful patriotic approbation as he relates this incident:

Olivier was smart and fast and his second try of the match looked a stone-cold certainty. But all the way from the other wing, tearing along the goal-line, came Williams; and a yard short of the tryline Olivier was crashed down in a fabulous tackle. Williams –ah... Only the French have the words and gestures suitable to describe such a player.

Gabriel David also refers to Eben Olivier; the cover defence of Bryan Williams -when Olivier was about to score his second try- and the fact that Olivier had a reasonable solid game for EP against the All Blacks. 

Eben Olivier

Eben Olivier at his best; known for his deceptive running. Notice how confused he has the French fullback on the photo.

16 Tests (1967-1969).

5 tries.

1.74 m; 77 kg.

Joined the 1965 tour to NZ as a replacement. Played in 4 tour matches during the 1965 tour; he did not score any tries.

Also went on the 69/70 end year tour during which he played in 12 matches, including the first two test matches (England and Scotland); he scored 4 tries in tour matches.

Terry McLean writes as follows about Eben Olivier:

...pronounced “Ohlerfeer”, was hoicked out of Stellenbosch to join the team as a late replacement (during the 1965 tour) and arrived in time only to play in four games. There were hopes that he might qualify for the final test (during the 1965 tour) and he had an earnest champion in Danie Craven when the latter arrived.

It was not his luck, however, to find the form which had all but put him into team at the South African trails until his last game, when his low-slung, scudding runs against the combined team at Rotorua revealed that he had an unusual capacity to run away from a tackle. Perhaps Olivier might have commended himself more, not least at the trials if he had not by nature, so unusually reserved and quiet. In a word, he was too solemn for his own good.

Alan Sutherland was included as lock but was placed in the lineouts on 6 with Lochore on 5 and this proved to be a huge success so much so that New Zealand dominated the lineouts despite EP having two excellent lock forwards namely Carelse an ex-Springbok lock and the very tall Rushmere. They (Lochore and Sutherland) dominated the lineouts winning the dual by 19-8. Sutherland also did his basic job as a lock very well namely staying in the rucks and scrums when pushing was required but still roamed effectively and powerfully in the open as well as doing the job of a no 6 flank in the lineouts namely protecting and supporting the leaper on 5. Laidlaw had a good game behind a forward pack that dominated in the scrums, lineouts and at the breakdowns.

The All Blacks scored 9 tries of which McCormick converted 5. Laidlaw was successful with a drop goal and McCormick added a further three penalties to NZ's total. Eben Olivier and Cloete (no 2) scored for EP, Adlam (no 15) converted the try.

The Eastern Province team playing in this match were:

Adlam; Heunis; Olivier; Nortje; van Tonder; Vosloo; Terblanche; Barnard; van Eyck; Carelse; Rushmere; Phillips; Pringle; Cloete; Marais (Captain).

The All Black team playing in this match can be seen here

All Blacks 35 / Boland 9

The next match was in the picturesque Wellington against Boland.

The following paragraph by Gabriel David (Rugby and be damned) summarizes the Boland match:

The All Blacks had played some patternless and unauthoritative rugby to lead a weak Boland side by only 19 point to 9 with eight minutes to finish the match. Then all the formless play fell into a defined pattern and four tries exploded on the Wellington ground.

The AB again made many mistakes and there was no dominance and forward momentum at the break downs. It has also become clear that Kirton and Going did not combine well although both had good games as individuals. Going once again impressed with sharp and penetrating brakes from behind the scrum. Cottrell was average on inside centre (2nd five-eight) while Graeme Thorne was a success on the left wing. Sutherland had a good game as no 6 flank.

Terry Mclean provides a nice short and illustrative description of some of the All Black tries in his book "Battling the Boks":

Thorne ran in the last of his three tries by beating three men on his inside. Milner scored a try by looping the loop with Kirton. Dick did a crisscross with Cottrell and bounded to the goal-line. And in the last minute, after pretty nearly every man in the New Zealand team had picked up the ball and run somewhere with it, Thorne and Lochore figuring prominently, Kirton took it last of all and dashed over.

About Boland, Gabriel David, writes:

The Boland lads played above themselves, but the most of these underrated sides do, and the All Blacks had some anxious moments during the early stages of the match.

Van der Merwe, Du Toit and O’Kennedy were a troublesome front-row for the All Blacks while Jennings and Basson were quite an embarrassment in the loose.

The Boland backs lacked initiative and unorthodoxy with Niewoudt strong on attack but weak on defense and Dirk Visser quite impressive on fullback even if reluctant to tackle at times. 

Mike Jennings

Mike Jennings here in his Springbok blazer never played in a test for South Africa.

He was a Springbok tourist during the 69/70 end year tour to Britain during which he played in 11 matches scoring 4 tries.

His father CB Jennings was a Springbok loose-head prop forward who played in 1937 in the first test against New Zealand.

Jennings was Captain of the Boland team who played against the 1970 All Blacks.  

Terry McLean has this classic piece on the Boland team:

The All Blacks were often pushed about rather unmercifully by an excellent pack of forwards. O’Kennedy, reputedly the strongest front-row forward in South Africa, had a considerable reputation, but most of us liked the look of van der Merwe, a solid, hardworking man on the other side. Du Toit, like Cloete of Eastern Province was an excellent hooker.

Then there were the locks, Joubert and Louw. Here at last, in each, was the kind of South African forward we had been expecting in every match. The two packed under the pelvic bones of their props. They got down very low. Their backs were straight, their knees bent, their heads up.

As the ball entered the tunnel, their knees momentarily straightened and the scrum thrust sharply forward a few inches. It was classic scrummaging, not improved as to technique by any pack on tour. 

As was the case in Kimberley and Port Elizabeth, the All Blacks was enthusiastically supported by the Coloured community in the Wellington and surrounding areas. Approximately 3000 of the 20 000 spectators were coloureds, according the Gabriel David and Terry McLean, and they shrieked with delight and pleasure when Sid Going - a Maori- scored a grand solo try against Boland. 

Hennie Niewoudt has Kember in close grasp, Ferdus Erasmus stands by, and Thorne and Milner are in states of distress of their comrade brought to his knees.

Thorne scored three tries for the All Blacks while Going, Milner, Dick and Kirton also crossed the Boland goal line. Kember converted four of the 7 tries and added 2 more penalties. Dirk Visser (no 15) kicked three penalties for Boland.

The Boland team who played in this match were:

Dirk Visser; T Retief; J Visser; A Joubert; F Erasmus; J Niewoudt; J Swanepoel; M Jennings (Captain); M de Villiers; D Louw; Johnnie Joubert; P Basson; J O’Kennedy; F du Toit; D van der Merwe.

The All Black team who played against Boland can be seen here