Rugby Union: NZ tourists continue to cut a swathe

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The Independent Online
Army. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .10

NZ Combined Services. . . . . . . .54

THIS was no close shave for the New Zealanders by any stretch of the imagination, but it was for their coach. While the combined might of Services and Police from Down Under rattled along to a half-century of points against the Army at Aldershot yesterday, their coach, Gordon Hunter, was preparing to reach for the shaving kit.

Hunter's confidence was such that he risked his moustache on the basis that his troops would not be conceding any tries during their seven-match tour to these shores and with 10 minutes to go in their sixth outing the bet was still looking good. Unfortunately, he reckoned without typical British stiff upper lip entering into the argument.

The Army were 44 points adrift when they received a lucky break. Running a penalty more in desperation than anything else, they lost possession and, lo and behold, the visitors dropped their guard when Constable John Mawhinney took the law into his own hands.

Mawhinney tried to set up a counter-attack within yards of the New Zealand line and the No 8's pass was intercepted by Chris Wood. A soft try and hard luck on Hunter, who will still emphasise the prize of a 100 per cent record with the final game, against the British Combined Services and Police at Imber Court, next Tuesday. The New Zealanders began their tour last month with a 33-9 win over Hampshire. Since then they have sunk the Navy, squeezed past Cornwall - beaten finalists in last season's county championship - arrested the British Police and shot down the RAF. Here, the Army hardly emerged from the trenches.

Dressed traditionally for the kill, in all black, the tourists began with a haka. But then half the side were Maoris and you knew the Army was always going to be a thin red line. New Zealand rugby is well organised whatever the level and national pride runs deep.

Their players have also adapted to the new laws, which means they stay on their feet. Kill the ball and you are dead and, in truth, the Army were about to be buried from the moment Allan Henderson potted his opening penalty in the second minute. The rest was the result of skill and commitment and a companion's interest increased as the annihilation progressed. John Grecian is the recruitment officer for London Scottish and a flanker by the name of Carl McDuff was the centre of attention as he scored three of the tourists' eight tries.

Army: Try Wood; Conversion Thomas; Penalty Thomas. New Zealand: Tries McDuff 3, Kapa, S Hansen, M Henderson, K Hansen, Mawhinney; Conversions: A Henderson 4; Penalties: A Henderson 2.

ARMY: L/Cpl R Hinton (Paras); Cpl S Bartliff (Royal Signals), L/Cpl K Bowling (RS), Capt A Deans (Adjutant-General's Corps), Capt J Fenn (Royal Corps of Transport); L/Cpl G Thomas (Royal Welsh Fusiliers), Cpl D Williams (Royal Regiment of Wales); Sgt D Coghlan (Royal Horse Artillery), Brigadier C Wood (RHA), Sgt C Campbell (RWF), 2nd Lt D Dahinton (Royal Artillery), Capt T Swan (Royal Army Medical Corps), Capt S Butt (RRW, capt), WO2 M Lewis (Coldstream Guards), L/Sgt S Berryman (CG). Replacement: Lt G James (RRW) for Butt, 60.

NEW ZEALAND COMBINED SERVICES AND POLICE: LPTI R Statham (Navy); Const R Kapa, Const S Hansen (capt), Const K Hansen, Const W Matene; Const A Henderson (all Police), AC S Morgan (Air Force); Const K Pauling (Police), ABS G Simpkins (Navy), ABS R Rangi (Navy), Cpl J Cook (Army), Const H Darry (Police), Sgt M Henderson (Army), Const J Mawhinney (Police), LEL C McDuff (Navy). Replacement: Lt S Guiney (Army) for Hansen, 60.

Referee: Lt G Jones (Royal Navy).

(Photograph omitted)