Home' Greymouth Star : May 30th 2015 Contents w
John Gri n
wi captain Roger Bailey, was stacked
ernational players including winger
cCracken, fullback Mike McLennan
rmidable forward pack holding Doug
Billy Burgoyne, Don Mann, Ernie
and Vic Yates.
Coast had its stars on that particular
elded a very good side, with Bruce
Russell Nelson, Graeme Scully, Mocky
n, Bill Johnsen, Graeme Peters,
weetman and Neville Kiely in the
nd a forward pack consisting of Ces
John Hibbs, Barney O'Connell, Denis
Miles Newton, Bruce Mann and Bill
Coast hooker Denis Smith dominated
rnational opposite Bill Burgoyne that
on, with Ces Clark scoring two tries,
Mann and Barry Sweetman crossing as
h Russell Nelson adding four points
conversion and a penalty goal.
and's only points came from a solitary
ed by reserve forward, Don Mann.
O'Connell says he remembers the
well as he smashed his shoulder just 20
into the game.
to Denis Smith, who was our
leader, that I'll have to go o . Bill
ves was the reser ve forward at the
enis said 'like hell you are, we're up
ts and we don't want those 'beeping'
nd players to know they can hurt us.
marking Vic Yates at the time, he
posed to have a reputation and was
r All Black but I more than handled
s Clarke had a good game that day, he
ays on the ball for the full 80 minutes
pretty t for a big bloke.
reckon he trained up and down
Track on the Paparoas --- I'd believe
uce Mann played well that day at
rward, but he always made a good
rever he played, and of course Smithy
(Denis) dominated the scrums," Barney says.
Bill Johnsen says it was always a big deal
beating Auckland and the 1968 victory was
sweet and well earned, as were the 1973 and
1975 wins he played in. "All our boys played
well but I think Auckland thought they had
the game won before they actually went out
on to Wingham Park.
" ey expected to go home with the goods
but it wasn't to be. It was World Cup year and
some of the Auckland Kiwis were unavailable
but they still had a good line-up of Kiwis and
form players in the side.
"I was marking Roger Bailey o and on
with Graeme Peters as we used an inside,
outside centre formation throughout the
game. Ken McCracken was in the side too
but I was 20 years old at the time, young and
stupid and just took it in my stride."
Barry Sweetman played stando , wearing
the No 6 jersey that day and remembers it as
a physical encounter.
"I was playing rst- ve and remember
thinking I was marking Carey, who I had
been to training school with a few years
"I thought he was weak then so why would
things change? I remember late in the game
grabbing the ball 10m out and running right
over the top of him to score.
"It was a memorable game and a good
pitch, which was unusual for Wingham Park
back then. e home support was huge and a
wonderful crowd turned up, three deep down
along the back fence.
"Bill Johnsen played outside me and Neville
Kiely was halfback. It was a tight game, a
hard game where no quarter was given."
Five years later West Coast produced a dour
performance to beat Auckland 25-14, much
to the delight of the partisan Wingham Park
e West Coast side was made up of Don
Ladner, Jim Birch eld, Bill Johnsen, Graeme
Peters, Peter McDonald, Kevin Murcott,
Don Monk, John Hibbs, Alan Gardner, Bill
Hargreaves, Tony Coll, Lachie Grant and
Bill Balderstone, Gerard Harcourt and Gary
e Auckland line-up included Kiwi
internationals Warren Collicott, Tom Conroy,
Denis Williams, Dane Sorenson, Doug
Gailey, Murray Eade and Bob Jarvis.
Ladner kicked six penalties and two
conversions for West Coast, with Johnsen,
Murcott and Hibbs all scoring tries. For
Auckland, Ashley McEwan scored two tries,
Eade and Hall one each, while Brian Tracy
added a conversion.
Alan Gardner says it was a game of rugby
league he will never forget.
"I was hooking and Billy Hargreaves and
Johnny Hibbs were my props. I had a real
good day, rst against Murray Netzler and
then Tommy Conroy; the Auckland scrum
was getting nothing and kept changing its
hookers. e dust was rising, it was a cracker
day and there was a great crowd. We changed
over at Centennial Park and I will always
remember Donnie Ladner practising --- his
kicking was incredible.
"We had a good team and it brings back
great memories --- fantastic."
Don Monk played halfback and says playing
against Auckland was the top of the line for
"Every game against Auckland was treated
like a test match. e Coast boys really lifted
in those games as it was a test to see where
you were at.
"One of the inspiring things was the crowd
would lift you, the supporters were vocal and
the stands were always packed. I remember
I went into the game with 11 stitches, ve
around one eye and six the other after a dust-
up with Johnny Hibbs against Marist the
"Johnny rang me on the Monday morning
to see if I was okay and checking I was all
right to play against Auckland.
"I also played against Auckland in 1975
and marked Kiwi halfback Ken Stirling. Our
preparation for those Auckland games was
very good. We had quality coaches in Geordie
Menzies and Ronnie Gibb --- as good as you
would get on the world stage. Geordie used
to say Aucklanders thought they were too
good to be tackled, so the focus was on hard
defence and to use the ball. Beating Auckland
was a challenge and getting the win made it
e epic battle of 1975, when West Coast
defeated Auckland 20-17, is certainly one
match of note and a game where St John
Ambulance personnel had their work cut out.
e West Coast team was Trevor Crestani,
Brent Lindbom, Mike McEwan, John Low,
Bill Johnsen, Gordon Smith, Don Monk,
John Hibbs, John Gri n, Bill Hargreaves,
Tony Coll, Lachie Grant, Ray Baxendale,
Gerard Harcourt and John Pattinson.
e coach was Ces Clarke. Auckland players
on the day included Collicoat, Winter, Dane
Sorenson, O'Sullivan, Williams, Sterling,
Procter, Wright, Hansen, Graham, Eade
and Kurt Sorenson. Bill Sorenson was the
Lachie Grant was an inspiration to his
side that afternoon and led the red and
white for ward pack with venom, much to
the dismay of the Auckland visitors. Grant
immediately made his presence known
and his intentions obvious, and in quick
succession targeted key for wards Albie
Hansen and Lindsay Procter.
e Auckland enforcers battered, bruised
and bleeding were eventually helped o the
eld wearing the aggression of the Waro-
John Hibbs had played in both the 1968
and 1973 victories against Auckland and he
recalls the 1975 encounter clearly.
"Right from the start there were reworks.
We kicked o and I remember Lachie
(Grant) had both sts clenched, arms
swinging and just tore into them. Charged
in and hit someone a bit high, I think it
was Procter. e Auckland team ran in and
attacked Lachie and an all-in brawl erupted,
and at the end of it two Auckland players
were lying on the ground.
" at was right from the kick o and from
that moment on we had our tails up and just
took it to them --- that was the style of West
Coast back then --- play it physical."
John says there was always a home ground
advantage when playing at Wingham Park
and 1975 was no exception.
" e home crowd got right in behind you,
very vocal, and of course there is no prize
for nishing second, winning is everything.
at Auckland side was a good side and had
plenty of Kiwis, but they were a bit like the
Auckland Warriors and the Auckland Blues
" eir records away from home are not too
good and they get homesick. If the Auckland
players weren't homesick that day then they
were de nitely sick --- I know that."
Lachie Grant says the pre-match talk under
the stand was all he needed for motivation
and says he couldn't wait to get out on to the
" e team talk under the stand got us going,
we were all red up. We had to get out there
and I remember waiting for the whistle to
blow. I was standing back a bit so as to get a
run up, ready for take-o and then I was in
"Whoever got the ball in the Auckland
side, I was going to knock over, and it just
happened to be Procter rst up. I remember
knocking a few of them over --- Hansen,
Brewster and Co.
"We all played our part, and it's great to play
with a good team. You had complete faith in
your team-mates and all you had to do was
your job --- take the ball up and knock those
Auckland blokes over."
Tony Coll partnered Grant in the second
row and remembers West Coast was on song
" e opening minutes set the tone. Lachie
(Grant) started the pattern of the whole
game, knocking those two players over in the
opening minutes. Auckland came down here
with big reputations and were dressed with a
lot of Kiwis in that particular side.
"Albie Hansen had a reputation as an
enforcer and Procter was his right-hand man.
eir reputations were diminished in a couple
"Lachie was a man possessed. Without a
doubt, Auckland was the kingpin of New
Zealand Rugby League at the time and so
victory was sweet. Wingham Park was just
bursting at the seams --- we had fantastic
For West Coast (24) John Hibbs, Don
Monk, Bill Johnsen and John Low scored
tries, all four converted by Trevor Crestani.
Auckland (17) tries to Patete 2, with Ken
Sterling 1 and Warren Collicoat coverting
both, as well as two penalty goals.
John Gri n says the Auckland match was
one of the rst in his representative career.
"I wouldn't say it was baptism of re but
Auckland have always been ashy sides
and it was a big undertaking for the boys to
knock them over. It was good playing with
such a good pack --- Billy (Hargreaves) and
Hibbsey ( John Hibbs) in the front row, Butch
(Coll) and Lachie (Grant) in the second row,
Baxey (Ray Baxendale) at back.
"Lachie led the charge right from kick-o
and from there Coast intimidated Auckland
--- they didn't like coming down here but
they never expected to lose. A huge crowd
and huge for West Coast rugby league at the
time. Victory was sweet."
has historically been described as the workingman's
iners and timber workers, who mustered together
Birthday Weekend 1915. To kick o the league's
Park will today host a representative xture between
One-time rugby league player, commentator and
E revisits some memorable previous clashes, when the
r-studded Auckland line-ups.
Saturday, May 30, 2015 - 7
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