United’s Tony Mundy Is Biting His Tongue
First five-eighths Tony Mundy could bite his tongue following United’s loss to Ngakawau in a vital senior dub rugby match at Waimangaroa on Saturday.
United needed the win to stay in the race for the Senior Shield and they had a good chance, leading 9-3 at half time. But three successful penalty goals in the second half gave Ngakawau the honours. Mundy, with Ngakawau trailing 9-6, gave them the chance to equalise when he chastised referee Norm Crawshaw and was penalised. Then Brian Clark refused to bind on the side of the scrum and another penalty goal followed from the unfailing boot of Ngakawau fullback Rex Mumm.
Mumm actually contributed 12 points. The other three coming from a magnificent field goal in the first half to give Ngakawau an early three point lead.
But the first half really belonged to the home side. The forwards launched attack after attack in the opening minutes and was unlucky not to score. Willie Heslop put the first points on the board with an equalising penalty goal and then the talented forward R. Hughes, who had a good game, took the ball clearly in a lineout on the Ngakawau line and crashed over for a try. Heslop kicked a difficult conversion from the mud.
Rain and a cold wind swept the ground for the first 40 minutes and it was good to see so much adventurous play, especially by the home side. The big United forwards won a ton of ball and halfback Bruce Cargill made good use of it until he went off injured in the second spell. While it would be idle to speculate what would have happened had he stayed, certainly his replacement, R. Knight, was not at ease behind the scrum and was often caught in possession towards the end of the second half. But it was not his putting in that gave Ngakawau its third and most important penalty goal, but the refusal of flanker B. Clark to bind.
Apart from this lapse, Clark played well and, with Hughes, W. Neighbours and B. Byrne, was the pick of the United pack. Another outstanding player was fullback B. O’Connor.
Ngakawau first five A. Ireland, obviously regarding him as the weak link, kicked to O’Connor all day, but the latter rarely faltered, and, while his line kicking was not impressive, it was safe.
Without the excellent defensive services of winger C. Neighbours, United would have lost by an even greater margin. He held Mumm in a tackle over the line in the first half and managed to keep halfback Johnny Gilbert from grounding the ball for a try in the second spell. The Ngakawau pack had a hard job containing a much bigger eight, but with players like B. Phillips and C. Cochrane there to tidy up, the forwards managed to hold their own. They needed all their courage early in the first half when United pushed upfield hard. The victors were without second five B. Morgan, and they missed him sorely. There was little thrust in the line, and, in fact, most of the enterprising rugby came from Cargill, Mundy and second five Alan Moseley, who was particularly dangerous on occasions.
Unlike the games further south, the Westport v Karamea clash at Karamea was played in bright sunshine. But no sooner had the game finished than down came the rain in what seemed like a cloudburst. Westport’s points came from two tries by B. Hart, another K. Bermingham and two penalty goals and a conversion by G. Hart. G. Volkman and J. Beveridge scored for the home side. The half time score was 13-4. Reefton, playing at Patterson Park, gave the fancied White Star team a fright when it led 7- 3 at half time and 11-6 with only minutes to go. It was only a last minute try by J. Hollis and a successful conversion by H. Pablecheque that saved the day for Star. Pablecheque had been sadly astray with several kicks earlier in the match and was under extreme pressure in his last effort. He contributed six other points to the total with trio penalty goals. Reefton’s points came from two tries by D. Mahoney and a penalty by P. Stuart. White Star beat Reefton 12-11 with a last minute try and Westport had no trouble with Karamea winning 20-8.
The 1976 season started well for the Ngakawau. They had pre-season wins over Matamata (33-11), Opawa (44-7) and Waikari (16-12). In their first competition game they beat Karamea 33-6 but the unbeaten run was about to come to an end. Whether it was the sign on the Granity straight that read “You are now entering Shield Country” or whether people were just tired of Ngakawau winning but there was great delight taken in their upset defeat by Old Boys. The headline in the “Press” read “Westport celebrates Old Boys victory”. Perhaps a more accurate description would have been “Westport celebrates Ngakawau loss.”
Westport celebrates Old Boys victory.
Everyone in Westport seemed to be celebrating on Saturday night. The whole town was talking about Old Boys senior club rugby win over last year’s unbeaten champion, Ngakawau.
In the first half Old Boys played with the advantage a light breeze and did plenty of attacking but little scoring. They were up 6-0 at the interval through two penalties by Ken Gray, but the margin didn’t look big enough.
At half-time the crowd seemed to grow even larger as though word had gone out that “invincible” Ngakawau were being beaten but even then most spectators seemed to think the talented Ngakawau backs would run Old Boys off their feet in the second spell.
Within four minutes of the second spell Rex Mumm had put Ngakawau level with a penalty from 40 metres and a well taken field goal from a wide angle.
Sixteen minutes later Old Boys whipped the ball out their back-line to the winger, Steve O’Brien, who flicked a clever reverse pass infield to Paul Bonisch who took the gap and scored.
After 25 minutes Bonisch and O’Brien caught Alan Ireland behind his own line resulting in a five yard scrum. From the scrum Old Boys’ half-back, Bevan Johnson, darted round the open side to score.
The conversion was again missed by Old Boys while making the ninth unsuccessful kick at goal.
Minutes later a fine burst from Ngakawau saw them race half the length of the field before Alan Ireland was caught on the Old Boys line. He struggled to get a pass out to Brian Morgan who had the line at his mercy but he could not control it and the chance was lost.
After 37 minutes the Ngakawau number eight, Calvin Cochrane, split the Old Boys’ defence wide open and ran 30m to score. Ireland missed the conversion and the final score was 14-10.
For Old Boys the win was a tremendous team effort. Much credit must go to A. Fussell and the inside backs, Bevan Johnson, John Mundy, and Gary Donaldson who pressured Ngakawau’s classy backs into mistakes and never allowed them to settle down.
The three-quarters, Steve O’Brien and Paul Bonisch were dangerous when given the chance and reliable on defence. The same could said for Ken Gray at full back, who timed his ventures into the line well was always safe under pressure. The Old Boys forwards once again went very well as a unit.
For Ngakawau, Neville Gear did some good work in the lineouts and Calvin Cochrane covered well. Rex Mumm looked good at fullback.
In the early game on the Square, White Star scored another upset win when they beat Westport 13-7.
Westport went ahead after 13 minutes when Roy Atkin kicked a penalty, but 10 minutes later Star drew level when H. Pablecheque goaled from 35m.
The half-time score was 6-3 to Star following another penalty from Pablecheque.
During the first spell Star looked a different side to that which had gone down to United the previous week. Once again their forwards worked well but on Saturday their backs got in on the act too. Pablecheque opened the second half scoring with another penalty.
With only 12 minutes of play remaining the Star centre, Paddy Alexander, burst through the Westport defence to score the first try of the match.
Four minutes later Joe Lee went over in the corner for Westport but Star hung on to their lead to run out deserved 13-7 winners.
Des Taylor once again proved a hard worker in the Star pack while the first five- eighth, Peter Stewart, had a good match keeping the ball in front of his forwards with accurate kicking.
On the wing, Tom Gray looked dangerous when given a chance and made a couple of good strong breaks.
For Westport, Gordon Moore won some useful lineout ball and got through plenty of work in the tight.
In the country match Reefton beat Karamea by 11-6. United had the bye.