RUGBY GAME. DUNEDIN. [From Our Correspondent.] Augot 1When the New Zealand team for Australia was selected I suggested that a stronger team might have been chosen, particularly in the back division. Not many agreed with me, but that is of no moment. I had the privilege of seeing the New Zealanders m action in Australia, witnessing the first match against New South Wales and the first tost match against Australia. What I saw confirmed my opinion that the New Zealand team was not what it might have been, and that it is probably the weakest New Zealand team that has ever visited Australia; The victories so far do not bear out this contention, but Australian Rugby, or rather Australian Rugby players, have not improved their scoring capabilities. Some Australian writers in" their enthusiasm have acclaimed the present team as one of the best that ever left these shores, but the older and more experienced of Sydney critics point to the 1903, 1905 and 1907 teams as all better than the present combination, and with these I agree. Personally, I think the 1903 team the best New Zealand side that ever visited Australia. That team included such backs as R. M'Gregor, Asher, Kiernan, Wallace, D- M'Gregor, " Morry " Wood, Jimmv Duncan (capt.), Stalker, Steat and Humphries. The team of backs at present in Australia cannot be compared for all-round excellence with tho players just named j while the forwards —Gallagher, Tyler, Nicholson, Long, Armstrong, Udy, M'Minn. Spencer, Cook,'Farney, Porteous and Given were certainly superior to the present pack. The New Zealand team now in Australia is sound forward with four particularly good men in Downing, Wilson, M'Neece and Graham. Irvine has proved a useful lock, but the hookers are not as good as in former years. The backs are only moderately good compared with the backs of former years. There is a distinct failing-off at nveoighths, . and the wing-three-quarters are not up to the standard of previous New Zealand teams in Australia. In the first match against New South Wales I was much struck with the improved standard of forward play by the Welshmen. The selectors had got together a big, hefty type, moulded more on the New Zealand lines—men who could play with dash and devil and go all the way. In the first spell against the wind the Welsh vanguard played the New Zealand pack at their own game and frequently beat them. They secured tho ball from the scrums possibly more frequently than the Blacks, broke away from the line-out like demons and tackled gamely. In the loose and in opening up the game for their backs the Welshmen were inferior-. In the second spell the New Zealanders came at the Welshmen like a real New Zealand pack, and because of their better knowledge of the finer points of the game, scored frequently. The score, however, was no criterion of the game, for the Welshmen despite the gruelling first spell came at New Zealand again and again and were frequently dangeiously attacking in New Zealand twenty-five, but they lacked that finish and resource which have been missing in New South Wales teams for years and could not score. It was no uncommon sight to see three or four Welshmen attacking the New Zealand twenty-five, with only one New Zealander to beat, throw away a certain try by hesitating, making a silly pass, by colliding with each other or by backing up on the wrong side. To a New Zealander, these attempts at scoring were ridiculous. And yet their " between football " was as good as that of the New Zealanders. The backs still have the same old habit of racing across the field and joining theirwings on the touch. Pace, the Australian back, has undoubted pace, but ho uses it to cut across the field in tho hope of skirting the wings and then finds he has jammed his own outside on the touch line. The Australian back has yet to learn to beat his man and run straight; also he has to learn to keep his head when he is in a scoriug position. The test match was a real try-out for New Zealand, and was ono of tho most strenuous games ever fought between the two countries. Incidentally, it was a triumph for the Australian forwards, who confirmed the good opinion I had formed of them in the New South Wales match. Tho introduction of tho Queenslanders had stiffened up both attack and defence, and it was
really a fine exhibition of the best j phases of forward play that the Australians gave. Had the backs been j up to tho same standard as tho forwards, they must havo won. New Zealand proved successful because the team seized the one chanco offering. Still, on the actual run of tho play, a drawwould have been a satisfactory finish. Although tho game wan a resolute forward struggle it was tho fine defensive line kicking of the New Zealand backs that saved the situation. O'Brien, the Auckland full-back, played almost faultlessly, hi.-, fielding being safe to a degree, and Ins line work faultless. On the occasions when he did not get the line, O'Brien would follow up his kick leaving his lino unguarded—a dangerous practice. The three-quarters —as in tho match against New South Wales —were quick and resolute. Taylor, the Canterbury half, playing on tho wing, was sound, while R. Roberts, at centre, did excellent work; Lynch was uncertain and did not like the Australians "crowding" him, and preferred kicking to running. Ryan, at inside five-eighths,, played two fine games, and he was the only back who went down to tho Australian rushes; Blacl* got few chances on attack, but he was quick to break down the opposition passing, getting in amongst .the Blue backs, and driving them to the touch line. Teddy _ Roberts, at half, was splendid. Ho improved greatly on his form _ against . New South Wales, snapping up the ball literally off the toes of the opposing forwards, and gaining tho touch. On attack he was at times brilliant, and was as elusive as a will o' the wisp. There was no better forward on the, ground than Downing, of Auckland, who is easily the bast forward in the team. Rang! Wilson was always first in following up, and played a fine allround game, while M'Neeco and Graham in the dribbling rushes stood out. The hooking was not successful, but this in a measure is attributable to the manner in which Wood, the Australian half, put the ball into tho scrum. He bounced it in after the manner of the League. Frequently it shot clean through, but play went on, the referee seldom ordering a rescrum. In New Zealand they would not stand this sort of thing, but it was one touch of League, that I noticed introduced in the Union game in Sydney. There was a deal of illegal play in both games, and the New Zealanders were not altogether blameless. There was too much obstruction and illegal tackling, and the Australian shot out his fist on many occasions. The illegitimate tackling, too, appeared to be unnecessarily rough, bub altogether there were methods introduced by both teams which the game would have been better without. Graham, playing wing-forward in the test match in place of Murray (injured), brought the crowd on him by acting more the sole of obstructionist than wing-forward. Graham had never played in the position before, and was inclined to argue the point with the other fellow. Afterwards, however, he settled down, and played a fine dribbling in great style. It appeared to me that, despite the inroads of tho League, the best Australian forward team to-day is as good '. a 8 ever it was. Certainly tha eight that represented New South Wales and the eight that represented Australia against New Zealand were two of the finest packs that have ever worn the Blue jersey. They were the equal iof the present All-Blacks in almost every particular. In the scrums, on the line-out and in tho tight play they more than held their own, but when it came to open, .loose play, where the forwards had to handle the ball, the Australians were at fault—indeed, they were hopelessly at aea. Tho backs are quick and nippy on attack, and have improved their defence, but they still have the old Australian habit of running across the field, and when in a scoring position on the goal-line get so sadly rattled as to spoil their chances. _ A good illustration of what I mean is shown in one of the photographs taken in the New South Wales-New Zealand match. In this picture are shown eight New South Welshmen coming down the field with the ball in possession. Only one New Zealander (Dick Roberts) is seen opposing them. A. try should have been the inevitable conclusion, but New South Wales did not score—the players fooled the try away in their own inexplicable fashion. New Zealand's line was threatened not once, but half a dozen times in this fashion, and yet the Welshmen could not score. They lack finish, and that's all there is to it. In to-day's Rugby senior games University beat Southern by 18 points to 3, Kaikorai beat Union by '39 points to nil, Zingari beat Port Chalmers by 29 points to 6, and Pirates beat.Dun- | edin by 3 points to nil.
WELLINGTON. [FROM OUE CouaESPONDENT.) July 31. Yet another postponement 1 All sorts and maimers of things were said last Saturday afternoon, about the Management Committee of the Wellington Rugby Union when the fiat went forth that no Rugby matches would be played. When the weather cleared in the morning, with things well-nigh perfect at midday, the football fraternity went to lunch perfectly satisfied that a good afternoon s sport was in front of them. But when a goodly number had .assembled—there were said to be fully a thousand outside the Athletic Park waiting for the gates to open—they could hardly credit tlie statement that all matches had been put off. Why the postponement? This is the first question that suggested itself. From what I can gather the Petone Borough Council informed the Rugby Union that the suburban recreation ground was not in a fit condition for the playing of Rugby football and therefore the Union was compelled to postpone the Athletic-Petono fixture. But why the two matches fixed for the Athletio Park were not played I cannot imagine. It is true that, as far as the winning of the championship is concerned, the only game last Saturday that counted at .all was the Ath-letic-Petone fixture, but there is no imperative necessity that it should be played at this stage; any other time later in the season would do just as well. As a matter of fact, if it could be kept baclt until the return of the New Zealand team from Australia, so that James Ryan, " Ranji " Wilson and Tod Roberts coulu take their places iu the respective sides, it would add considerably to the interest to be taken in the game.
Be that as it may, no harm could possibly have been done by putting through the two games arranged for tho Athletic Park ; The winning of the championship is not everything—tho game itself is also worth v of some consideration. I do not feel inclined to labour this point, however, for the simple reason that the postponement was a wise thing, as it turned out. A heavy hailstorm came round about four o'clock, .and it would have been a disastrous thing for the players if a game had been in progress then. But the principle remains the same—if one match is postponed from any cause, it does not follow that all the others should be put. off also. I have been .asked to give my straight-out opinion of Ted Roberts, the half-back of the present New Zealand team. I do not class him as a great half-back, certainly not .as good as his father was before him, his namesake Fred Roberts, of "All Black" fame, or Clem Green, tho ex-Petone lad now on the West Coast. My ideal h/df-bacK is one who is continually looking for openings to make an attack on the opposition citadel. And this is where' Ted Roberts fails. He is a fine man to have on tho side —and I am now judging him on bis whole career as a Senior plnyer—but he wanders too far from his correct position to take advantages in the weaknesses of the opposition that a half-back ought to bo always looking for. It is quite possible tint, after last year's experience in California and this year's tour in Australia, he may «»e the advantages of
doing only his own work at half-back, and, if he does, he may rise to higher heights than he has yet attained. Ho has 3 tho ability to do so, and is young enough to learn tho lesson. In a New Zealand representative side there should bo no necessity for the halfback to cover up the mistakes of the men behind him, and if Roberts discovers that he is wasting his time and energy by running back, it will tend to imnrove him as a half-back. At lea.st, 'that is my contention. ASSOCIATION GAME.
WELLINGTON. [FIiOM OtTR COEItESrONDENT.] WELLINGTON, July 81. Tho following table shows how the various teams contesting the senior championship stand:
4 i £,P, « « J 5? i 5 "i "2 1 « si o P; S 5 o a S '£ & Jo o 6
Corinthians and Thistle met at tho Basin Reserve on Saturday _ for the second time this season within a month. At the first meeting neither team had tasted defeat, but on this occasion matters were quite different, whereas Thistle had lost all their matches since that date; Corinthians, on the other Land, had secured all possible points. Nevttheless, the interest in the match was at top pitch, both teams being confident of victory. A keen game resulted, taking the climatic conditions into consideration, Corinthians winning by the small margin of three goals to two. At one period of the game there was a heavy downpour of hailstones, but the players kept at it right to the bitter end —and bitter it was, in truth. Soccer football in Wellington this year is of a higher standard than it has been for some time. If "gates" are anything to go by, then it is a record. Dave Smith, the Thistle trainer, was perfectly' sincere when he _ admitted to a- friend that Corinthians were too good for his team. Dave seldom admits such a painful fact. It is said that selector Jim Paton has some difficulty in selecting hie "south" goalkeeper this year. Who is it to be out of Hollis, Webster, or Bellhamie is the question that is worrying soccer enthusiasts jus,t now. They are all good. A Manners Street tradesman tips tho following team to represent Wellington for the Brown Shield:—Webr ster, Ives, M'Kenzie, Rickerby, Roots, Skinner, Black, Heath, Gibson, O'Shea and Ballard.
Corinthians . 12 11 1 0 47 0 23 Hospital . . 11 9 1 1 49 7 10 Y.M.C.A. . 11 5 8 8 17 18 33 Thistle . . 11 5 2 4 80 21 12 Diamond* . . 11 5 2 4 24 17 12 Swifts . 11 3 a 5 13 23 0 Wanderers . 8 2 2 4 6 22 6 Rovers . 11 a 1 8 17 46 6 Brooklyn . 11 2 0 8 9 23 4 Fetone . 8 0 1 7 6 27 1
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FOOTBALL., Star, Issue 11151, 8 August 1914
FOOTBALL. Star, Issue 11151, 8 August 1914
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