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Reaction on second test; Maori and Wairarapa-Bush

In the firing line, the All Black backline unable to score tries in spite of having the majority of the possession. Too much kicking, the charge against the halfbacks. After a TV broadcast of the test even the Springboks were asked about this; their response slightly arrogant. Terry McLean writes:

After a telefilm of the test, the Springboks, or the thinking ones, this evening were agreed on one thing –if the All Blacks had been really on the ball, they would have won by 20, even 25, to nil. The case in point just before halftime when Laidlaw ran the blindside from a loose movement with Murdoch, Moreton and Birtwistle lined up outside him. Ahead stood only Gainsford and Brynard.

With any sort of accuracy in passing and any sort of speed in movement, it must have been a try at the other end. But did this try come off? Not a ghost of a chance. Murdoch kicked.

“I tell you,” said Gainsford not without a touch of scorn, “those All Black backs will never run against us. They never will. They will always kick.” This remains to be seen and proved; but it was a devastating display of defensiveness of New Zealand rugby at the highest level.

How things have changed? Today, the All Blacks are the team with the more enterprising backs while the Springboks are accused of a safety first appraoch and too much kicking.

McLean is here a little one-eyed, in my opinion. With more precision in passing and a little better decision making, the Springboks could have scored at least two tries. The Boks allowed New Zealand to "spoil", the AB was not so "dominating and in total control" as McLean with his black tinted glasses would like his readers to believe. This would have been a totally different game if the Springboks controlled and protected their lineout and scrum ball better. To be fair, it was not a case that the "dominant" All Blacks stole the Springboks line-out ball or secured an substantial amount of heels against the head in the scrums. It was a case of negative disruptive tactics that won them the game.

Typically, McLean labels and describe the Springboks post-mortem as being a whinge session. Lofty Nel, apparently, complained that Conway was pushing him, in response to a question why he didn’t secure the deep throws on him, in the lineouts. Afraid that he will be penalised, the reason, why he did not push back or use his elbows, explained Lofty lamely.

Tremain's crouching below the level of the scrums and his consequent undetected pinching of a yard or two past the offside line -enabling him to hassle Nellie Smith-, was also a complaint. Why didn't Ellis and Schoeman do the same, ask Terry McLean in his book "the Bok busters"? An interesting question considering how the same author, in his book about the 1970 All Black tour, continually complains, after each test match, about Jan Ellis’ offside tactics. Jan Ellis clearly took the lesson learned here from Tremain -on how to play offside- to heart, and in 1970, when the shoe was on the other foot put, it is suddenly was no longer a case of do- as-there-is-done-to-you, for Terry McLean.

The primary objective; winning the remaining 8 games; everything else secondary to that purpose was the tour committee's decision and message to the team, after the whingy-bitchy post-mortem. Specifically, it was decided that some players will get more game time in order to refine combinations and to get these individuals back on form. Hopwood and Botha having recovred from injury will get preference upfront; Hopwood for his ability to put pressure on the playmakers in the backline; Botha, for more Mongrel upfront in order to stop the bullying in the lineouts. In the back Oxlee has had his chances and the decision was that de Villiers and Barnard will be favoured on 9 and 10 in the remaining tests and against the more formidable local teams.

There were also rumours that Eben Olivier or Nomis were going to be considered as centre partners for Gainsford in place of Roux who was disturbing the rhythm in the back line. Essentially, the boks –according to McLean- were looking for someone who could put Gainsford into space and who would not not squeese him up against the touch line.

About leadership and the Springbok's ability to bring these plans to fruition McLean writes:

All this means realistic thinking; the only question I ask is whether it will be followed up. Between thinking and doing, there is often an abyss, if not a gulf, in this team. Louw’s anxiety not to be a dictator is a cause of this. Selectorially, there are too many cooks at the broth and none of them, least of all Louw, seems to want to be head chef.

Springboks 28 / South- and Mid-Canterbury/North Otago Combined 13

The combined team had a reasonable team -a few All Blacks, a NZ colt and several players with considerable experience at local first division level. The slight chance the home team had to spring a suprise and defeat the Springboks dissapeared like mist beforre the sun when Gardiner (No11, inside center) left the field -leaving them with only 14 men on the field- after just 5 minutes as a result of a hard but legitimate tackle by Nomis.

The Springbok team for the game was somewhat of a gamble with three younsters Barnard, Olivier and Nomis on 10, 11 and 12 in the backline (the centers played in 11 and 12 up to 1977).

Springbok team for this match were: Mulder, Engelbrecht, Olivier; Nomis, Truter, Barnard, de Villiers, Slabber, Hopwood, Naude, Botha; Janson, Marais, Walton, Parker.

At half time the score was 16-5 in favour of Springboks and 20 minute before full time the score was 28-5. One-way trafic with the Springboks running in the tries against 14 men was the expectations at this stage of the game. Amazingly, the last 15 minutes belonged to the home team leaving every one astounded by the seemingly can-not-care-attitude of the Springboks -who seemed to have stopped playing- allowing the combined team to score two tries at the end.  

R.E. Bailey scores the first of his two tries giving the combined an early lead. Springbok wing Trix Truter (face down) failed to take a high kick behind the Springbok line and Bailey on the left was the first to force the ball.

Dawie de Villiers did not impress; his service was slow culminating in much pressure on the three youngsters in 10, 11 and 12. Olivier in 11 had a reasonably good start to his tour having arrived from South Africa only 3 days ago. Nomis in his first game after his hamstring injury played had a reasonable game and combined well with Engelbrecht with the latter scoring three impressive tries. Truter the other wing also made two visits to the combined’s ingoal area. There were also tries by Barnard –after an outstanding break and a twinkle toe run- Slabber and Janson. Mulder and Naude were both successful with conversion kicks.  

Trix Truter is well tackled but prepares to unload the ball to A. Janson who has raced up in support.

The most significant was the way Hopwood - normally a No8 playing on the flank – caused havoc amongst the opposition's playmakers in the backline. Slabber and Parker also played well; Naude and Botha broke away on several occations but, says McLean, they did not impress with their decision-making and with their bean pole running styles. McLean then goes on and explains that they did not look like Colin Meads -when running with the ball- so as if Colin Meads way is the golden standard for how a lock should run with a ball. 

Piet Botha getting up high in a line-out. 

Janson was in fine form against the combined team. He scored somewhat of a lucky try but his general play was of a high standard. Here he sprints away from a ruck.

At the end, an easy win but the Springboks were disappointing in their inability to focus, maintain concentration and put average opposition away.

South Africa 9 / Maori 3

The game -as is usually the case when the Maori’s play against touring sides- elicited great interest in spite of the fact that the 1956 game (the game where the Maoris were told to lose, according to Walters) was somewhat of a farce. The Johannesburg Star predicted -based on the North Auckland game which was by far the most violent, so far on tour- an all out brawl. Two thirds of the North Auckland team were Maori and according to the newspaper it was undercurrent racial issues that were responsible for the aggressive and off the ball incidents in that particular game. The newspaper used that dubious and fabricated information to built a case that racial tension exist between the Springboks and the Maori's and that the match would need very little to ignite into a nasty punch-up. The game, however, proceeded without any incident and was characterized by beautiful open running rugby despite the fact that not a lot a tries were scored.

Springbok team who played in this match were: Wilson; Gainsford; Roux; Brynard; Barnard, de Villiers (Captain); Hopwood; Ellis; Botha; Du Preez; Nel; Marais; Walton; van Zyl.

The Maori team was a strong team with several All Blacks in their ranks, including current All Blacks such as Ron Rangi (No12) and John Collins (No13), former All Blacks such as Mac Herewini (No10) and Waka Nathan (No6) and the future All Black scrumhalf Sid Going. The weather was good but the field was heavy and wet from constant rain in the preceding week.

At the interval there was still no score on the board in spite of the fact that the Maori's were constantly on the attack in the first half. After two minutes in the second half Mans launched a centrefield up-and-under on the Maori teams fullback, Waterreus. The ball deflected of Waterreus' shoulder into the hands of a charging Lofty Nel, who caught it and ran through for try.

Mans was also instrumental in the second try -24 minutes later- when he tore a hole in the defence with a clever angled ran -coming from the blindside wing- between Barnard and de Villiers. The ball was shifted to Roux who drew the fullback on him before sending Brynard over for an excellent try.

About three minutes before the end, de Villiers charged a kick down picked the ball up and cross the goal line for the Springboks third and last try.

McLean described the Springboks three tries as follows:

Only three minutes after the start of the second half Mans kicked a Garryowen down the field and Waterreus, in making the catch, was hindered and trapped by van Zyl from a grossly offside position. Nel stormed up to the scene, grabbed the ball and canted his great height over the goal-line for the first try. At this, thousands gave tongue against the Springboks, van Zyl and, Mr. Millar; and from now on, the referee was subjected from time to time to such unpleasant barracking that the Athletic Park crowd quite lost its reputation for fairness.

To be just, the greeting for the Springboks’ second try was uninhibited. Justifiably so, for it was a magnificent effort. As de Villiers passed to the line to the left, Mans came in from the right, took the ball, tore a hole in the middle of the defence, passed on and, at the end, Brynard went for the corner-flag like a bat out of hell. Everything about the try was perfectly judged and done.

Because he was so evident a hero, de Villiers’ try, the last of the Springboks, was also warmly greeted. Gainsford was caught from the ruck and Going kicked to clear. The elevation was insufficient to clear de Villiers’ up-raised arms and as the ball rebounded towards the Maoris’ goal-line, Dawie did everything right, slowing to make sure of the pick-up and then going for the line at all speed.

With playing time already over the Maori's launched a vigorous and inspired attack. The ball was despatched down the back line to Myers (No14) who placed a rolling kick down the touch line. Running after the ball Myers picked-up the rolling-bounching ball -at full tilt- and dived for the corner. The ball spilled lose and backwards at contact with the ground and the defenders but Crawford (no 7) was at hand to grab the ball and force himself over the goal line for the last points of the game. The crowd streamed uncontrollably on the field -after the try was scored- to such an extend that the referee blew the final whistle without the conversion haven been taken.

Hopwood and Walton tangle with Maniapoto and Wordlay in a typical bit of rugged forward play during the Maori match. Piet Botha moves in from the right to support with Eliis on the ground and Sakkie van Zyl in the background. 

Lack of clean ball and too many basic errors cost the Maori the match, according to McLean. Barnard, du Preez and Hopwood was the Springboks’ best players, especially Hopwood –playing in his second game after his back injury this time on No8.  

South Africa 36 / Wairarapa-Bush 0

The match was played in Masterton in front of a crowd of about 10 000. Besides Lochore who was captain, there were several other talented players -NZ trialists and Colts as well as North Island and New Zealand university team representatives- playing for the home team.

Masterton is located in one of the dryer (if such a place exist in New Zealand) areas in New Zealand and provided the Springboks -for the first time on tour- with the opportunity to play on a hardish and "dry" surface.

The backline played with confidence and the ball was given so much air that the contest looked more like a basketball match than a rugby match. The Springboks ran in 7 outstanding tries.

Wynand Mans stood out with two tries and a dropgoal. Janson also scored two tries and there were tries by Nomis, Naude and Macdonald. The dry playing surface also seemed to have helped with the kicking and Oxlee landed 6 of 7 conversions. Hopwood once again had an outstanding game and showed he was ready for test rugby with the third test looming.

Springbok team: Mulder; Truter; Nomis; Olivier; Mans; Oxlee; Smith; Slabber; Hopwood; Naude; Botha; Janson; Macdonald; Malan; Parker.