Third test against New Zealand, Eden Park, 1937
The 1928 series between SA and NZ ended in a draw. When the 1937 Springboks left South African shores for Australia and New Zealand, there was much concern whether the Boks would survive the onslaught in the mud of NZ. However, Philip Nel’s 1937 Springboks returned home as the greatest Springbok team ever and the undisputed champions of the world.
New Zealand won the first test more comfortably than the score of 13 – 7 would suggest. The Springboks were much better in the second test in Christchurch and won 13 – 6 after they were down 0 – 6 at half-time after two tries by All Black centre Jack Sullivan.
The third test would, after 16 years of battle between Springbok and All Black, and at the end of three test series, at last determine who the world rugby champions are. The Springboks would, inter alia, scrum themselves to victory in this game. In those days one could opt for a scrum instead of a line-out and the Springboks would scrum the All Blacks into the ground. The first try came within three minutes. After the Springboks won the fourth consecutive scrum, Jack Sullivan again tried to intercept Tony Harris’s pass, but missed.
Flappie Lochner took he pass at full speed to cut through the gap left by Sullivan. When checked by a defender he passed to Louis Babrow for a fine try. This time Gerry Brand could not convert as the ball was not fully inflated. Soon thereafter he missed two penalties for the same reason. The Springboks stay on the attack. Louis Babrow once again cuts through the NZ defense gives a perfect cross-kick. Ferdie Bergh gathers the ball and dives over. Gerry Brand’s conversion makes it 8 – 0 to SA. The Springboks seldom played better. They opt for scrum after scrum and destroy the All Black pack, but in the last fifteen minutes of the first half the All Blacks launch a massive come-back and stay on the attack, but the Springbok defense holds. Trevathan succeeds with a 50 yard penalty and it is 8 – 3.
The Springboks kicked off for the second half and kicked the ball out. Once again they choose to scrum. Danie Craven orders his fly-half Tony Harris to stand further away. Then he sends him even further so that Harris is in the middle of the field. All Black fly-half Trevathan follows Harris to leave a huge gap – just what the Springboks wanted. When the ball came out of the scrum a flying Freddie Turner came in from the blindside wing and took a very short pass from Danie Craven. Turner is right through the All Black line and runs straight at full-back Taylor before passing to Flappie Lochner who takes a difficult pass before giving it to Louis Babrow who scores near the corner.
Brand could not convert but the battle was largely won. The Springboks stay on the attack and pin the All Blacks down in their own half. From a scrum in the middle of the field the ball goes out to Dai Williams on the right wing, who beats his man on the outside before scoring a great winger’s try. The Springboks are 14 – 3 ahead but they are not finished yet. From a loose scrum Lucas Strachan gives a long pass to Freddie Turner who scores after a determined run. Trevathan gets a second penalty for NZ and final score is 17 – 3, five tries and a conversion to two penalties ! The Springboks are the champions of the world !