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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 17, No. 8. May 27, 1953

Varsity's Winning Vein — Savage Stewart Osborne Impress

page 4

Varsity's Winning Vein

Savage Stewart Osborne Impress

Gale force winds and seas of mud notwithstanding Varsity have maintained their unbeaten record over the vacation. Poneke, their next encounter don't appear capable of spoiling their run of victories. In fact, although it is still early in the season to judge conclusively it appears that Varsity will win the Jubilee Cup in two consecutive years.

The games played during the vacation have been spoilt by inclement weather. No team can play attractive football in atrocious conditions. Yet the football we have seen has not lacked interest. This is due to the fact that the standard of wet weather football has been very high. Neither Varsity nor any of their opponents have attempted to play a game out of character with the prevailing conditions, but have accepted the soft state of the ground and heavy, slippery ball and have changed their tactics accordingly. Consequently to Judge players as possible candidates for rep. teams without first seeing them in action on a day that is dry may lead to disastrous results.

These three games have enhanced the reputation of many of the Varsity players. But what must stand out above all else is the improvement displayed by the forwards. Previously when the rain would fall on a Friday night. Varsity supporters remembering only the quality of the back-line shake their heads and become dubious about our chances on the following day. But now glorious sunshine or pouring rain we go to the Park knowing there is not a team in Wellington capable of beating them.

What the forwards have lacked in size they have made up for in speed and plain hard work. There is no pack that can out-ruck them—yet they possess no Johnny Simpsons or Ray Daitons. Why? Because when a player goes down on the ball the first person there is a University forward—once there they move intelligently. They are there to secure possession of the ball and this they do admirably.

But there is one thing our forwards do have that many other packs lack—a leader. Stuart, who led the team to victory lost year, has improved to become one of the hardest working front-row forwards In Wellington. Against Hutt he gave the best display he has given over the last two seasons. There was added lire in his piny and all this was needed against the Hutt pack. Barren and Burden the two new forwards have given the pack greater binding power. They have become part of the unit very quickly and have proved excellent replacements for Hutchinson and Murray.

The forwards have been fortunate in that they have behind the scrum a half-back who makes the maximum use of the supply of ball they obtain. Savage by his tactics never wastes his forward's energy. If their are any half-backs in N.Z. who can equal his game on a wet day then they must be well in international class.

Henley at five-eighths has been the player who has gained most in stature over the past weeks. Never intent with remaining a link. Henley has infused fire into the inside backs. His running and ability to see and make use of gaps has been the means by which "Varsity has of late capped off the hard work of the forwards. On a wet day a five-eighths becomes a very important person. Often the results will depend on his capabilities. On a dry ground and especi-back-line outside of him his main ally with the play of a high class function must become more like between forwards and the backs. But penetrating runs by a first five-eighths whenever the opportunity arises docs much to unsettle the opponents cover defence.

The other back who has caught the public's eye of late is the fullback Osborne. Against Hutt he made at least three saves which Scott would have gladly owned. Coolness under pressure, sure handling of a wet ball either on the ground or in the air and increased power in both feet have made Osborne one of the contenders for the full-back berth in the Wellington Rep. aide. His increased confidence may be gauged by the fact that against Onslow he made his first appearance in an attacking move by the back-line.

B. V. Galvin.