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Mataura beat Pioneer 8-4 in a Wallis Shield match in Gore at the start of the 1976 season. It was a day of missed opportunities from Pioneer, who should have probably won the game. The forward battle was even between the two teams and it was good to see this calibre of rugby for the first game of 1976.
Gus McAllister, Graham McGowan, and Gary Findlay dominated the lineouts for Mataura but it was the Pioneer, being the lighter pack, that dominated the rucks and mauls.
Jack Mulqueen had a great game for Pioneer who constantly frustrated the Mataura side with his bustling play. He was well supported by his captain Colin Pascoe and lock Lindsay Pritchard. Denis Murcott used his strength effectively in the tight.
The ball did not really get out the backline, but Neville Broderick for Mataura was always seeking out opportunities with centre, Kevin Merilees also performed well after a season away from the game.
Pioneer's Paddy O'Sullivan gave his team a lot of ground with his long raking kicks and Lloyd Proctor took every opportunity by running the ball whenever the chance came his way.
Mataura led 4-0 at halftime.
Mataura: Merilees, Broderick (1)
Pioneer: Melvin Robertson (1)
Reference: Mataura Downs Pioneer 8-4. The Southland Times April 1976
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