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In 1978 Marist almost upset Invercargill and if it was not for the fact that they lost their hooker, Martin Skinner with 15 minutes to go and had to play with 14 men the outcome may have been different. It was only a last winning try by Ian Donaldson that ensured Invercargill got the win.
Again it was the forward power of Invercargill's Kevin Duke, Slim Low and Jim Fortune that contributed to their win. Marist had the smaller pack but this did not defer it in making Invercargill work for everything.
Steven Pokere constantly kicked high balls up to youthful Paddy O'Brien to test him under pressure. With Invercargill's tactics concentrating on this they gave Gary Bennetts the opportunities he wanted to play his strong running rugby. His attacking flair kept Marist in the game and he scored all their points.
When Invercargill did eventually try to run the ball, a pass between Ian Ballam and Bruce Cockroft was too early and Bennett seized upon it and ran 40 metres unmarked to score under the posts to give himself as kicker an easy conversion. The two penalty goals he added made up Marist's 12 points. He did however miss two penalties in the second half when he seemed to not strike the ball as usual.
One of these penalties was because of a incident in the Invercargill half, and they argued with the ref who marched them back 10 metres which even made it seem easier for Bennett he did not strike the ball well but Marist got a second chance when the ball was knocked on by Glen Smith under his goal posts. Marist as much as they tried just could not get the ball over the line.
Miles Herdman at half back for Invercargill gave his opposite Kevin Gaines a battle and gave his first five eight Pokere a string of good ball.
It was Herdman's run from the side of the scrum and the perfectly timed pass to Ian Donaldson that gave him the winning try.
Barry Flynn was great in the loose and his mobility made it hard for the Invercargill backs. He also contested the lineout ball and Peter Hughes put his heart and soul into it and was also able to win his share of lineout ball.
Paul McKenzie at first five eight for Marist was safe while Chris McDonald in his return kept his team with his experience, level headed.
Scorers for Invercargill was John Steenjes and Ian Donaldson, Ron Whelan a penalty goal and conversion and Steven Pokere a penalty and drop goal.
Reference: The Southland Times May 1978
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