FIRST TEST MATCH
All Blacks* Narrow Win At , Auckland
Close And Exciting Game.
The crowd — between fifteen and twenty thousand — which assembled at the Auckland Domain on Saturday last witnessed the first really International encounter on the football field which has been held m the annals of the country. The Chinese ' 'Varsity Soccer tfeam provided the opposition for the New Zealand eleven, and the result of a close and exciting game was a win for the All Blacks by the odd goal m three, the deciding score being notched m the dying minutes of the game. That the visitors were looked upon as a body Of sports and gentlemen was amply demonstrated m the way the crowd showed its appreciation of their play. From start to finish the code was played m its most scientific style and there were, many passages of really brilliant footwork shown <by both sides. . At one point, of theVgame one could not but feel that the Dominion reps, were holding a lot up their sleeves, so to speak, but m the secqnd portion of the game, when the scores were equal, there was no* 1 denying the eagerness of the All Blacks to get m the lead. The students were obviously out of .their element on the treacherous turf. The visitors did not play such a fast game as that against , Auckland the previo.us week and though they show,od soino changes m the eleven, it cannot >be said that these alterations made for betterment , There was a marked difference between the Eastern and Western interpretations of the code, and, while each had something to commend it, there was no gainsaying which was the more profitable. The visitors play a very open outfield game, and they have a lot of clever manoeuvring: m their style, mostly of an individual nature, but they have not learned the art of pressing home.an attack. They were quite weak at goal, whereas their opponents played a progressive combination game and had an accuracy, m front of goal which was always dangerous. Then, too, the students have shorn the game of its more aggressive features arid they have not so far m their tour unlearned the conception they have gained of law 9, which permits of charging. They certainly are trying to assimilate the Western method, but are clumsy at it. They have, however, clearly demonstrated that the game can be played and played [well minus this means of forcefulness. Their conception is a purely scientific one, and m many ways are past masters m the art. Saturday's encounter was tuU of thrills, and though the All Blacks ran out winners, there was really very! little to separate the sides. The two>goals which fell to the winners were got I very simply, and there certainly was more than one lost opportunity, while the visitors had several chances presented to them, but they failed to finish. The. goal they did get was the culmination of a memorable piece of footwork and combination by the inside forwards, m which the middle line also took part, and the crowd became worked up to a- high pitch when Craxton was hopelessly beaten by Jap at close range. The effort again demonstrated the idea of the students to get right, m upon the goal before shooting. At the outset the All Blacks had easily the best of play, and they made most of their ground on the left wing, where Ballard was 'prominent, though he waa inclined to overdo the solo play. -It was here, too, that the students were weakest In their defence, for Tsai, at right half, Was slow and uncertain, and gave many openings. As the game" progressed, however, the visitors improved, and when they tried a re-arrangement of the inside forwards m the second spell the difference was very marked and they kept the home rear division busy. The closing stages were full of exciting passages, and the play ranged from goal to goal with refreshing vigor. The neat and accurate overhead kicking of the students gained them much applause, and also considerable ground advancement, while they are ahead of anything In the Dominion, on Saturday's showing, m the way of headwork. Their agility is responsible for robbing their opponents* of the ball on many occasions, and they can get their heads to tho leather when m almost acrobatic positions. Their whole play goes to confirm the idea that their code is to got the ball from their opr ponents by every means but forcefulness. Individually, tho side fielded oh Saturday was not so clever as the eleven which opposed Auckland on the previous week. The visitors have a very clever custodian m Pao, and his anticipation and general display show confidence and resource. On Saturday he brought oft! several clever saves m the face of a strong sun, and his punting: down the field waa strong and conr
sistent Hung: and Liang were the backs, and m the second spell they shone to better advantage than m the Initial session. ' Their close tackling lacks even reasonable vigor, however, but their clearances are well timed and well directed. Haphazard punting is not m their make-up, and they have useful recovering propensities. The defence at times became somewhat disorganised, which gave th? indication that the rear division has not yet dropped into complete understanding. Their covering lip m tjroes of stress was not always efficacious, and there were occasions 1 when Pao's charge was subjected to grave risks. 1 Under pressure the backs were plucky and determined, and they emerged from the game with very little against their reputation. The middle line was dominated by the play of Wang m the pivotal posir tion. He got through a power of work during the afternoon and In his placing, as m breaking up/ he was careful and reliable. He hid a clever opponent to, keep m watch m Cook, but he stuck to his man throughout and also found time to help bis mates when they were m trouble. As already indicated, Tsal was the weak link m the chain. He was slow, uncertain m his clearances, and altogether he was not m the same, class as any of his mates. In the second spell he improved greatly, and towards the close of the game he was muoh more m the pidture. Chen was against the Auckland pair, Dacre and Innes, and he had many interesting tussles with one or the Other of them, and honors were not far from being easy. He has a very useful height, which he knows how to convert to good account, and his handy turn : of speed was seen against the fast- All Black outside right Each of the forwards at some time or other shone to advantage In solo as .well as combined play, while there were patches of weakness. The. students made more use of their extreme wingers than oA the previous, week, and this all but brought the. scores level m the last few seconds, when Ting got off on his own. Chang was undoubtedly the star performer In the attack and his clever circumvention of the All Black defenders m both the first and second portions of the game brought loud plaudits from the crowd. He has a most elusive style of footwork, arid the habit he has of lobbing the bail over his head and hooking for the goal means a lot to his side. Wu was better at inside left than at centre, but during the game lie did many smart things. Jap played inside left m the first spell and inside right' in the gecr ond, and he took part m most of the combined play served up. Lok, on the extreme right, was only moderate for most; of the game, but towards the finish he brightened up and troubled the defence on more than one occasion. But for one or two smart and dangerous runs, Ting, on the outside left, was only fair. He made little use of hla left foot, and seemed to be out Of plaoe. - The All Blacks proved a well-balanc-ed and capable lot. Craxton was' safe In goal and wus i*°t troubled to anygreat extent. Anderson was easily the better back, and played a sound game. His tackling .and general defensive play were very sound, and his kicking clean. McKlnstry was safe enough, but did not seem as though he would shape too well under strong; pressure. The middle line kept a close grip on things all through the game and gave a clever exposition of the functions of this department of the side. McGirr, on the left, put m a lot of solid work, while Neesham played a pretty game all through. MCCreanor seemed to be m a different class from his team mates and served up some rather easy-going stuff. The trio, nevertheless, were strong m attack and reliable In defence. The All Black forwards gave a good account of themselves and when it is remembered that they played for the first time together it must be said that the line worked with surprising cohesion. There was an . inclination ,m j the first half to play to the left wing, ! but m the second spell the play was much more evenly distributed. Cook made an ideal pivot Fast and sure on the ball, he at the same time gave his other attackers every opportunity and kept i things always on the move, Campbell gave a clever exppsltion of the inside game, and he fed Ballard to perfection, giving the ball to the best placed man without delay. JDacre and Bob Innes, on the right, have played together on many occasions, and they had many profitable raids on Saturday, Both played up to reputation.
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FIRST TEST MATCH, NZ Truth, Issue 978, 23 August 1924
FIRST TEST MATCH NZ Truth, Issue 978, 23 August 1924
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