The Spike: or, Victoria University College Review, October 1918
"Till after a thousand scratches and scrambles
They wipe their brows, and the hunting stops."
—Form the Swedish.
Since the publication of June issue of the "Spike" the football season has been completed, and although the success of the teams has not been all that could be desired, the season has been a successful one. The wisdom of the committee in forming a second fifteen has been proved by the numerous victories the team secured in the third grade competition. The senior team suffered considerably by the removal of the age limit from the competition, and has been pitted for the most part against older and heavier teams; yet though frequently defeated it gained a reputation for clean and open play. The annual match against Canterbury University College was recommended this season and we hope that it will not again be allowed to lapse.
The chief reason for the failure of the teams in many matches was the lack of regular practice. The forwards, especially at the end of the season, played very well against heavier backs, but many scores were lost through the backs, though good individually, failing to show the necessary combination. We desire to place on record our appreciation of the services rendered by Messrs E. K. Lomas and J. A Thomson who coached the teams during the season.
The following are the matches played by the senior team since the June issue of the "Spike":—
V. Wellington.—Won 13—9. This match was played at Petone on June 1st. The play was not of a very brilliant nature, being confined mostly to the forwards, who played a good game. Tries were scored by Scott, Aitken, and Lusk, two of which Scott converted.
V. Canterbury College.—Won 40—6. This match was played at Athletic Park on June 3rd as a curtain-raiser to the representative match, Wellington v. Trentham. In the first spell we scored rapidly as a result of good combination among the backs. At half-time we led by 32 to nil. The second spell was of a more strenuous nature, and the visitors showed better combination. Tries were scored by Barker (3), Lusk (3), Pope (2), Gillespie (1), Martin-Smith (1), of which two were converted by Scott, and one each by O'Regan, Lusk and Barker. For the visitors Jackson scored two tries.
V. Wellington College.—Lost 13—14. Played at Athletic Park on June 8th. This was one of most spectacular games of the season, being strenuously contested from beginning to end. At half-time the College led by 6—5. For most of the second spell we attacked continuously, and only the splendid defence of the College backs prevented us from scoring repeatedly. Up to shortly before time we led by 13—9, but then the College forwards broke away and scored a try which was converted. There was little to choose between the teams, but we had a little the better of the game. For us tries were scored by Smith and Scott, both of which the latter converted. He also kicked a splendid penalty.page 55
V. Oriental.—-Lost 3—12. This was played at Duppa Street on the following Saturday on a wet ground. Very little form was shown by either team except at the end of the second spell, when we atacked strongly. Lusk scored our only try.
V. Athletic.—Lost 3—15. This was played at Petone on the day after the capping ceremony. The game was of an uninteresting nature, there being only occasional flashes of good play. During the first spell Scott kicked a penalty.
V. Petone.—Lost 13—30. This game was played at Petone on July 20th. The first spell was fast and open and we showed good form, leading at half- time by 13—10. In the second spell Petone made the play close and wore down our lighter pack. We were confined to our twenty-five for most of the spell, and our opponents scored repeatedly. Tries were scored by Barker and Gillespie, both of which Morton converted in adition to kicking a penalty.
V. Wellington College.—Lost 13—18. This match was played at Athletic Park on July 27th, but did not produce such good football as the previous one. At half-time College was leading by 18—5. Our forwards played a splendid game, but the backs were inclined to hold on to the ball too long. Scott and Gillespie scored tries, both of which Morton converted in addition to kicking a penalty.
V. Poneke.—Lost 3—13. Four of the team were unable to play owing to injuries, and this had considerable effect upon the team, especially upon the backs. The game was uninteresting. Poor collaring allowed our defence to be pierced on several occasions. Scott kicked a splendid penalty.
V. Old Boys.—Won 16—4. In this match, which was played on Kelburn Park, our long succession of defeats was broken. The ground was very wet and at times the game was a mere mud scramble. Nevertheless the team handled the sodden ball well, and at times the backs combined very well. Barker in particular, playing full back and acting-centre-three-quarters, covered himself with mud and glory. Scott, Barker, Pope and Martin-Smith scored tries, two of which Scott converted.
The team congratulates Aitken, Scott and Martin-Smith upon gaining representative honours.
- V. Athletic.—Lost 0—8. The team did not play up to its usual form, lack of practice being the probable cause.
- V. Berhampore.—Won 3—0. The game was evenly contested throughout. Our points were secured by Robb, who scored a try.
- V. St Patrick's College.—Won 8—6. Tries were scored by Tracey and Irwin, one of which the latter converted.
- V. Wellington B.—Won by default.
- V. Wellington A.—Won 8—0. Blathway scored a try which Irwin converted, also kicking a penalty.
- V. Poneke.—Lost 0—6. The team paid the penalty of not practising, being defeated by one of the weak teams of the competition.
- V. Petone.—Won 11—3. The team showed improved form, especially among the forwards. Tries were scored by Robb (2) and Tregurtha, one of which Irwin converted.
- V. Hutt.—Won 9—8. Tries were scored by Anderson and Tracey (2).
- V. Athletic.—Lost 3—11. This was the semi-final of the competition, and aroused considerable interest. The game was not very exciting, 'Varsity being on the defence most of the time. In the second spell Irwin kicked a splendid penalty.
The College team this year did not fulfil expectations. It has plenty of good material; It possesses a fast back team and a light but fairly vigorous set of forwards. On two occasions, against Wellington College and against Petone, it played up to the top of its form, the first match, according to most enthusiasm, being the best game played this season in Wellington. On other occasions, sometimes the line-out play was lamentably weak; at other times the defence round the scrum was bad, while often the passing of the backs erratic and badly Judged. A College team to be successful must be fast in both backs and forwards; it must be in the pink of condition, and therefore able to play the open game right through both spells; it must be able to keep the ball in play all the time, passing or centreing, but never finding the line. page 56 The forwards must dribble past but never lose control of the ball, nor permit marks to be made by fast opposing backs. Serums and light play on the lineout should be avoided, and the object of the team, especially when opposed to heavy forwards, should be to run them to a standstill. One expects skillful play from a collegian, and no greater skill in football can be exhibited than in the fast combined play of a good back team, with clever fast dribbling forwards to share the honours.
Victoria College could have such a team if the players kept themselves up to the mark by hard by hard training, and turned out occasionally early in the season for combined play. The secret of success in football is in co-operation.
The following is submitted as a brief criticism of the individual players:
Knell—A good full-back, fast and clever attacking the ball; sometimes runs across the field too much; had bad luck in being knocked over unnecessarily by a burly Petone forward and injured in the shoulder. Needs to practice kicking further down the lines.
Barker—The fastest back in the team; needs to be given more work to do; occasionally shows a tendency to dodge going down to rushes. But makes up for it by snapping the ball when going at full speed.
Scott—A well-known fighting back with plenty of dash; has learnt to get rid of the ball, but needs now to exercise a bit more judgment as to when to pass and when to hang on; could never be accused of not doing his fair share of work; quite deserves his place in the Wellington rep. team.
Aitken is very quick off the mark, and is, therefore, always dangerous; good at cutting in and making openings, and never hesitates about getting into the thick of it defensive work is necessary; probably the best all-round player in the team. As captain, he could well afford to hustle the team a bit more.
Gillespie has plenty of speed, when he gets going; occasionally loses the rest of the backs by cutting across the field in the wrong direction.
Morton played an exceedingly fine game against Petone, scoring all the points; had very bad luck in injuring his ankle, and since then, has been inclined to hang back when vigorous tackling should be indulged in.
Pope knows the half-back game, but lately has been inclined to pass badly, either sending the ball wide or bowling it along the ground; very smart at getting marks from forwards rushes, quite a good accomplishment for a half-back to cultivate.
Lusk played in the team as 1st emergency. If he could only grow fat, his reckless dashes—reckless in one so light—would be exceedingly useful.
It is difficult to criticise forwards individually, because often the hardest working forwards in the scrums and in the tight packs get little credit for their work, so that a few observations on the play is all that is offered. Adams and Randall must be pretty fair hookers, because, in spite of the light weight of the pack, the team generally has its fair share of the ball. Adams seems to be a good "hooker" in more ways than one. The best forward, who gallops up just in the field all the time is Martin-Smith. He has played well consistently all the season. M. M.-Smith would do the team a world of good if he would practice jumping up in the air, a sort of game he would be good at, and which, at present, is sadly lacking in the play of the forwards as a whole. O'Regan does not show up much in the open, but his weight must be of good hard-working forward. The wing-forward, Low, keeps himself in good form, and follows up well, but hardly fights enough round the scrum. A wing-towards must get in the way, somehow, and protect the half. Charles had bad luck in having to stand down recently owing to injuries, because his place on the line-out takes some filling.
A bystander once remarked about the University forwards that they were all right, but played the game too gentlemanly. The team plays the game, certainly, in the right spirit, and should continue to do so, but could put more dash into it. After all, when a man is tackled, he must come down, and come down vigorously; its part of the game.