MATCH REPORT FROM "ALL BLACKS IN THE LIONS DEN" -
Ian Kirkpatrick made an amazing tactical error when after winning the toss he elected to play against the wind and the slope at Moseley. It was just what West Midlands were praying for and after a blistering, brilliant start, they had enough points in the bag to hang on and become the third side to beat the tourists.
It was a contest in which skill, flair and determination proved too much for a side that seemed to be beaten even before they took the pitch, but who finished with an effort of such towering character, grit and courage that it might have proved the making of them.
Undoubtedly the All Blacks were suffering a mental hang-over from recent events that had culminated in the sending home of Keith Murdoch and had suggested they were an unhappy, ill-at-ease party.
They looked dispirited from the start and were reeling when John Finlan dropped a goal after a minute and Cooper and Fielding [he wasn't playing, the summary tells us Duckham scored it - Ed] - scored a try apiece inside another six.
Then, when a hammering seemed on the cards, Kirkpatrick got them working, driving forward himself and playing brilliantly to give his side inspiration and belief in itself. That it was ultimately not enough did not detract from the never-say-die spirit of a side that clearly was deficient in attacking variety.
The match emphasised this. The All Blacks won good ball often, from scrum, line-out, ruck and maul, but they rarely knew what to do with it, particularly when they had scope for plenty of scores in the second half when the Midlands began to tire.
Defeat was inevitable after Midlands’ fine start. Nigel Horton, who distinguished himself all afternoon, started it with a good jump and tap back at a line-out that allowed Finlan all the time in the world to drop a goal.
Then Keith Fairbrother hooked Colling's feed to a scrum and after a series of fine accurate passes and good running, notably by Preece, Cooper finally was left in the overlap position to sweep past Morris for a try.
Worse was to follow for the All Blacks who got themselves in to a dither after they had won a strike against the head. Sayers, trying to tidy up and punt ahead, had his kick charged down by Finlan, and Horton, Fairbrother, Corless and finally Duckham combined to work another overlap and a try that Doble converted.
The All Blacks then realised that only superhuman efforts could save them and grittily they applied themselves to a rescuing job. After 30 minutes they had their reward when Swain tried to pick up a loose ball inside his own 25 when he could have hacked it safely into touch.
Duckham had anticipated a clean pick up and kick and broke too early, leaving Swain with only Preece to pass to. Swain did, but gave the Coventry centre a tackle by Hurst as well. The ball went loose and up popped Sayers to pick up and score.
Doble made it 16 – 4 at half-time with a penalty for foot-up, but with Morris missing three penalties and Williams one, it was not until the 62nd minute that the Midlands defence was again breached, at a time when Jan Webster, earlier concussed, was playing on instinct alone.
The All Blacks impressively won the ball at a maul with Whiting, Kirkpatrick and Holmes taking the ball into the loose for Colling to break and eventually put Hurst in. The effort was too late. West Midlands, a team for the occasion, had won with something to spare.
From: All Blacks in the Lion's Den.
Editor: Terry Godwin.
Publisher: Philips Electrical Ltd.