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In the Combined Sub Union 1976 competition Riverton was the toughest team to beat despite critics thinking that they did not have the man power. The team was coached by Ken Stephens for the past three years and his philosophy was that they had to secure second phase ball by getting all his men to the breakdown which involved getting his loose trio to the ball as quicky as they could.
Ken Stephens was a master mind in the rugby game and he was not afraid to swap his key player, Murray Heath from half-back to first five eight. It was also because the team had a very able second string halfback, Graham Guise, who did not diminish the strength of the team in any way.
The backline of Stewart Heath, Gordon Lewis in the centre and Gavan Burns on the wing were all strong runners and solid tacklers. Stewart Heath was selected for the sub-unions team that year but did not play a game due to injury.
It was interesting to see that Stephens, transformed Phillip Laurie from flanker to the back-line which proved a triumph.
The forward pack of Allan Ronald and Peter Dawson, the two flankers were always first to the loose ball and set up rucks and mauls quickly to beat the opposition.
Lock Mike Ward was outstanding and being one of the only players with significant height, it was left to him to secure most of the line-out ball.
Wayne Soper, at hooker, was one of the key players in the team. He won a truckload of tightheads and his presence on the field ensured that the opposition knew he was there. The ball he won for his team was invaluable.
First five eight, Brian Thompson and also the vice captain did most of the kicking in the first half of the season but Norman Cleaver a consistently good goal kicker, from other years, took over the role in 1976.
That season with only two games to go Riverton had scored 39 tries, converted 18, kicked 13 penalties and five drop goals, 4 of these by Brian Thompson. They had 246 point for and 71 against. They had only 1 loss, which was to Nightcaps, which was their first game of the season, they lost 4-9. They had only had one draw with Limehills.
The manager of the team was Mr Harry Dawson, a distinguished stalwart.
Reference: Boyle V., The Southland Times, August 1986 "Riverton Had Too Much Experience"
Article courtesy of The Southland Times 1986.
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