Bennie Osler’s Test

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Springbok and All Black met for the first time during the 1921 Springbok tour to New Zealand. The three test series ended in a draw; one test win each with the last test a draw. A very strong All Black team then toured South Africa in 1928 for four tests and 18 provincial games. The first test was played in Durban and attracted the largest crowd Durban had yet seen.

Bennie Osler This was traditional Springbok rugby at its best: a pack of forwards that dominated in the scrum and at the breakdown points, with Bennie Osler dictating the game from flyhalf with pinpoint tactical and line kicking. Whenever they could, the Springboks opted for a scrum. Wing Prinsloo got the ball early in the game in a good position and dropped for goal, but missed. Then Jack Slater broke through with Stanley Osler next to him in support and one man to beat, but 10 yards from the line he got tackled and the opportunity squandered. The Springboks kept on attacking and from 35 yards out Bennie Osler dropped a goal in a flash. Half-time score: SA 4  NZ 0.

SA started the second half with one man short as Duffy was concussed and was not allowed back on the field. The Springboks kicked off deep and All Black centre Carleton failed to find touch. A loose scrum developed and the ball went quickly out to Bennie Osler who dropped another goal from 40 yards out – within a minute of the restart. New Zealand carried the ball deep into the Springbok half, but a 50 yard kick for touch by Van Druten took the All Blacks back to their 25. Maurice Brownlie was penalised for hanging on to the ball, but Stanley Osler missed with the kick for goal. A few minutes later Brownlie was penalised again and this time Bennie Osler kicked the goal. SA 11 NZ 0. On two occasions the Boks almost went over, but desperate tacking saved the All Blacks. Bennie Osler then kicked deep on fullback Lindsay, but was late-tackled and the referee awarded a penalty where the ball landed – right in front of the NZ posts.

Bennie OslerOsler had no problem adding three easy points. From here on there was only one team on the field and it was only tenacious tackling that kept the Springboks out. First Phil Mostert and then Prinsloo almost scored, the latter losing the ball as he went over the line. Stanley Osler then had a great run, but was held up on the line with Prinsloo in an open position next him. Then the try came. From a scrum on the All Black 25, Bennie Osler came round on the blind side and passed to Jack Slater. He cut brilliantly infield and cleaved his way through the All Black defense and scored a great try even through tackled three yards from the line. This time Bennie Osler missed the conversion, but the victory was decisive: SA 17  NZ 0.

It was a great Springbok victory. The forwards simply out-muscled the All Blacks and a brilliant Bennie Osler who, with his devastating kicks, kept his forwards going forward. The All Blacks held their own in the line-outs, but were dominated in all other aspects of the game. The All Black scrum was often pushed back for yards at a time. It was only during the last fifteen minutes that the Springboks backs were let loose.

Willem Frost

Willem Frost

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