Rugby Union: Master class from an all black force

Click to follow
The Independent Online
British Police/Comb Services. .23

New Zealand Comb Services. . . 39

THEY began the match with a haka and they ended it with the Maori war-dance and, in between, their performance was just as rehearsed and compelling. New Zealand Combined Services completed their seven-match tour with an impressive record.

Unbeaten, they scored 228 points and conceded 57. More pertinently they amassed 30 tries and conceded only three, two of them in yesterday's finale at Imber Court, the playground of the Metropolitan Police. The New Zealanders, of course, play in all black and frequently they looked like the real thing.

British Police and Combined Services fielded five internationals but were without several others, notably Rory Underwood who was receiving his MBE at Buckingham Palace. In a match sponsored by Securicor (pickpockets were thin on the ground), the British XV had 36 hours to knit together and formulate a game plan and it took the New Zealanders a couple of minutes to leave it in disarray.

BPCS, with Simon Dear and Derek Turnbull enjoying an early supremacy in the line-out, opened a 6-0 lead through the goalkicking of Kevin Bethwaite. Had Frank Packman, going for an interception, not dropped the ball, it would have been more. Then in the space of two minutes just before half-time the New Zealanders put 14 points on the board. Hooker Grant Simpkins scored the first try after a typical forward drive and when Packman fumbled a pass in front of his own posts, Kelly Hansen added a second.

Whenever Her Majesty's home forces threatened to get back into the game, the New Zealanders responded with a devastating reply. Paul Hull, the Bristol stand-off, dropped a goal but immediately Kerry Pauling smashed his way over for a try; when Hull cleverly created a try for John Fenn, Richard Kapa, who once scored a world record 11 tries in a game for North Harbour Maoris, tore through the defence from 40 yards for a spectacular solo effort. Where the New Zealanders had a massive edge was in the art of counter-attacking and keeping the ball alive.

Many of their moves were the result of sweeping brush strokes, often initiated deep in their own territory. Kapa would have scored a sensational try in the first half but for putting a foot in touch. It all started from a drop-out 22. The New Zealanders, instead of kicking the ball to their forwards, tapped it over the line and then instantly snapped it back through their legs, a la American football, and 10 pairs of hands later the move finished a few feet from the British line.

Still, the last word went to the home forces when Hull made a half-break and slipped a scoring pass to Ross Ferry, who dived over at the posts.

A film of the match, complete with commentary by Nigel Starmer-Smith, is being sent, via the diplomatic bag, to British forces overseas. They are in for a little treat.

BPCS: Tries Fenn, Ferry; Conversions Bethwaite, Hull; Penalties Bethwaite 2; Drop goal Hull. NZCS: Tries Simkins 2, K Hansen, Pauling, Kapa; Conversions A Henderson 4; Penalties Henderson 2.

BRITISH POLICE/COMBINED SERVICES: K Bethwaite (Royal Navy); S Crossland (Royal Air Force), F Packman (Police), I Chandler (Pol), J Fenn (Army); P Hull (RAF), S Worrall (RAF); M Linnett (Pol), K Waters (Pol), S Jenkins (Pol), S Dear (Pol), D Turnbull (Pol), T Rodber (Army), D Richards (Pol, capt), I Dixon (RN). Replacements: R Ferry (Pol) for Bethwaite, 26; C Brierley (Pol) for Turnbull, 37; C Hillman (Police) for Waters, 39.

NEW ZEALAND COMBINED SERVICES: J Smith (Army); R Kapa (Police), S Hansen (Pol, capt), K Hansen (Pol), W Matene (Pol); A Henderson (Pol), N Moen (Navy), K Pauling (Pol), G Simpkins (Navy), A McLean (Pol), S Dravitzki (Navy), H Darry (Pol), M Dudley (Pol), J Mawhinney (Pol), M Henderson (Army).

Referee: T Harvey (Devon).

Comments