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A shock loss to Riverton in 1978 saw interest increase in the Central Western competition. Waiau were the victors that took Riverton by surprise in the final round of the comp. Riverton were now under pressure to beat Wrights Bush the following game to ensure its stranglehold on the comp.
Riverton never looked like winning against the strong Waiau Star team and Ken Stephens knew that to beat the leading team he would have to ensure that his forwards played a loose game to give their backs more man power.
Phillip Young and Matt Scully answered the call admirably and played out of their skins to get to get quality ball to their backs quickly and accurately.
Murray Heath - half back for Riverton played his usual tactical game but found it unusual to be playing behind a pack going backwards. The win to Waiau Star was credit to a well thought out plan.
Riverton did not want a repeat performance when they met Wrights Bush the following week. The bush team have nothing to lose and with a win over Riverton in the first round must have felt confident. Ace card would have been Leicester Rutlege, with Colin McDonald and John Hall helping him in the set phases.
Wrights Bush had the talented Colin Rutledge and John Ellis to set their backs up. At centre Paul Howden had emerged as a strong runner after promotion from the lower grade and his brother, Barry Howden was always looking for the chance to attack.
Riverton 24 Wrights Bush 6
Both sides went on the field to play open fast rugby and the spectators were not disappointed, and it was a different attitude from the week before that Riverton carried.
Riverton opened the scoring with a penalty goal to Norm Cleaver and at 31 minutes, Gordon Lewis ran 60 metres to beat several defence and scored a great individual try.
Bush came out firing after being down 9-0 at half time and with a constant wave of attacks, Gavin McPherson went over for a brillant try in the corner.
Allan Frew kicked a drop goal for Riverton, which changed the game and then the flood gates opened and Stuart Heath scored a try and Frew scored two.
Reference: The Southland Times 1978
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