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Southland v Fiji was held at Rugby Park on Wednesday 21st August 1957. After the visitors had been in Southland in 1951 and wowed the crowd, it was with much anticipation to witness the passion and running style not often seen in those days.
,A lot of the die hard rugby fans would say that the 1951 game was one of the best ever seen. The game resulted in a 11-11 draw.
Scorers for that game were Len Wilson (1 try 1 DG), Bill McCaw (1 try) and Ashby (1 Conversion).
So far in 1957 on their tour of New Zealand, Fiji had played 11 games for eight wins, two draws and a surprising loss to King Country The team had 257 for and 130 against.
The ground was soggy and not hard and fast as the Fijians like it. They ran the ball at Southland whenever given the opportunity and would create a 3 to 4 man overlap but always seem to waste the opportunity by turning infield, slipping over or mis passing.
Individualism, not team work was the way they played, with the forwards having little knowledge of rucks and mauls. They just could not match Southland in the set play.
The crowd were appreciative of the sparkling passing, finger-tip passing and long hurling passes.
Southland led the Fijians by 10 points to nil after 36 minutes. This came about by J. Mucunabita stealing the ball of his opposite Alistair Tait and sprinting for the line.
Graeme McKenzie at full back saved the day with what was to be one of his many great tackles.
Southland then attacked, Laidlaw passed to R. W. Gilson, who evaded half a dozen tackles. He found himself in the clear with Kelvin Tremain and Arthur McMeeken in support. Gilson gave McMeeken an awful pass but the flanker kicked ahead and dived on a rolling ball accross the line to score. McKenzie converted.
Southland's other breakaway, G. Erskine moved quickly round the front of a lineout right on the Fijian's line and broke through the defence to score. McKenzie failed to convert.
The Fijian's attacked with avengence and made runs of 40/50 yards without being touched, but it was passing at the wrong times that undid their good work.
It finally paid off for them when Domoni jazzed his way infield and fired a pass to forward, N. Nabaro, who scored.
A slashing run T. Naidole, offloaded to second five eight, Dawai and gave the ball to Domoni who scored in a tackle.
The crowd were not appreciative of the way their team played out the game. They were playing negative rugby and seemed to be defending the score instead of the players. They seemed to be intimidated by the rushing Fijians and went high in the tackle instead of round the bootlaces.
Graeme McKenzie was the only exception and was fearless and took some knocks, but seemed confident in his work and saved some certain tries.
N. Uluiviti, J. Levula, S. Domoni, O. Dawai, T. Naidole, K. Rose, J. Mucunabita, S. Vatubua, N. Nabaro, P. Wakali, A. Durisagila, A. Seacake, J. Tabaiwalu, I Cawa, J. Saukuru, S. Sautu, M. Naikovu, T. Lisio, R. Vunakece, A. Kunawave, A. Raratabu, J. Burenivalu.
G. S. McKenzie, R. Todd, R. W.Gilson, J. R. Watt, W. R. Archer, K. F. Laidlaw, A.J. Tait, G. M. Stodart, G. Erskine, A. J. Soper, K. Tremaine, A. Dalzell, H. O'Neill, J. Marshall, G. Groves, J. S. Borland, K. Fyall, A. McMeeken, J. Dawson, R. S. Terry, J. Allison.
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