An article in the match programme for Newport v New Zealand in 1989 provides much of the following:-
The 1905 All Blacks had given a foretaste of the power of New Zealand rugby and nineteen years and a World War later, there arrived in Britain a team which was to sweep ail opposition aside by playing superb open rugby. In their ranks the All Blacks had the Maori full-back, George Nepia, whose name became a house-hold word wherever rugby was played; the giant Brownlie brothers Maurice and Cyril; and majestic backs in five eighths A.E. Cooke and M.F. Nicholls.
The record of these magnificent tourists was . . .
Played 30, Won 30, Points for 721, Points against 112.
This was, without a shadow of a doubt the greatest team ever to land on our shores. Yet Newport so nearly beat them!
Rugby correspondent Jack Davies, claimed that this was the most exciting match he ever saw and that this New Zealand team were 'the greatest I have ever seen play rugby as it should be played.' One of the all time 'greats', George Nepia, played at full-back and the rest of the All Black team read like a 'who's who' of famous legends. They did not lose a game throughout and this was probably the closest any team came to beating them.
When the New Zealand captain C.G. Porter led his team onto Rodney Parade there were around 28,000 spectators present who had paid £2,344 to see the game. How many succeeded in so doing is a matter of conjecture when one considers the size of the crowd!
What a match it turned out to be. The Newport team got off to a fine start when Bill Friend, a lively wing-forward, finished off a fine move started by Jack Wetter, the 34-year-old Peter Pan of Welsh rugby at the time. A quick pass from scrum-half Eddie Dowdall saw Wetter make a half-break before slipping the ball to Evan Kitson. The former Blaina centre made more ground before sending Wyndham Jones haring for the line. Faced with the All Blacks' covering defence, including the mighty Nepia, Jones cut back infield where he found the eager forward at his elbow The crowd erupted as Friend crossed near the posts. This was the first try conceded on the tour. Jack Wetter added the conversion and Newport led at half-time by 5pts to nil.
The second half saw Newport still on top when suddenly Cooke slipped the defence and made a fine break which was halted close to the line. Before the Newport defence could regroup, the All Black forward Jimmy Mill scrambled over for a try which Mark Nicholls converted. The scores were level. Play now swung from end to end with both teams coming close to scoring before Nicholls put his side in front with a penalty. The Newport team now began to play like men possessed and when Jack Wetter took a pot-shot at a drop goal which went wide groans turned to cheers when George Andrews, who had followed up the kick, flashed past the All Black wing Svenson, to pounce for a try. Fred Baker converted with a magnificent kick from the touch-line. Newport were ahead by 10pts to 8pts! Steadiness would have meant a deserved and historic victory, but it was not to be!
In the dying minutes a failure to find touch gave Svenson a chance to save the game. The wing fielded a loose clearance and made a glorious run which brought him a try. Nicholls again added the goal points and the All Blacks had snatched victory by the narrow margin of 13pts to 10pts.
The following day the National Press was full of superlatives about the match . . . "Reminiscent of the halcyon days of Welsh rugby"... "Newport has never rendered a greater service than this to Welsh rugby"... "The game of the century"... "The tourists will never be nearer to defeat and escape it".
In a letter to Newport Rugby Club by George Nepia, sent from the New Zealand Rugby Museum at Palmerston North, in August 1980 for the WRU Centennial Season , the Maori legend wrote, "What a game the 1924 All Blacks had at Newport. We went through that British tour without losing a game ... but if ever there was one we were lucky to win it was this game. Although we won 13 - 10 ... we were down 5 nil at ½ time and trailing 8 - 10 with only about 10 minutes to go. I think we scored right on time to save the game. Jack Wetter was in his mid-thirties I remember ... which to me then seemed a great age to be playing the game. And your side had Bill Friend who was the first player to cross our line on the tour ... yes, they were great days. Since we lost two-thirds of the scrums and most of the lineouts ... looking back on it one has to admit we were very lucky to snatch the game. ..........KIA CRA KATOA and CYMRU AM BYTH."
NEWPORT- Fred Baker, George Andrews, Evan Kitson, Wyndham Jones, Albert Stock; Jack Wetter, Eddie Dowdall; Jack Whitfield, George Hathway, Reg Edwards (Capt.), Viv Waite, Tom Roberts, Jim Collins, Tom Jones, Bill Friend.
NEW ZEALAND- G Nepia; K.V. Svenson, H.W. Brown, J. Steel; A.E. Cooke, M.F. Nicholls; J. Mill; C.G. Porter (Capt.), W.R. Irvine, Q. Donald, R.R. Masters, M.J. Brownlie, C.J. Brownlie, A.H. West, A.J. White.
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In another account as taken from 'Rugby Recollections' by W. J. Townsend Collins (Dromio) published by R. H. Johns of Newport in 1948 the game is described as one that Newport should have won.
"THE TRY THAT SAVED A RECORD"
"In the Newport-New Zealand game of October 2nd, 1924, the home forwards hustled, bustled, and harried the visiting backs; superlative defence checked attacks by the heavier, faster New Zealand forwards and backs; and a piece of clever combination by Newport backs and forwards - which carried the ball out to the right, then back to the centre - enabled W. Friend, one of the forwards, to score. Jack Wetter converted, and that gave Newport a half-time lead of five points. After about ten minutes in the second half, New Zealand scored through Nill, one of their forwards, Nicholls converted, and the points were equal. Only watchful and resolute defence prevented the All Blacks from adding to their score. Once the defence was beaten by a kick over the full back by Cooke, but the ball turned to touch near the line. However, New Zealand took the lead with a penalty goal placed by Nicholls. Unperturbed, Newport played with confidence, resolution, and resource, and were attacking when Jack Wetter, dropped at goal. The ball went wide, a New Zealander failed to touch down, and Andrews dived upon it near the corner. With a great kick Fred Baker, the Newport full back, converted, and Newport led by ten points to eight. All the strength and skill of the visitors were flung into the game, but it looked as if they would be held when the Newport full back, Fred Baker, made the mistake of trying for length with a relieving kick, and failed to find touch. Svensen burst along the left touch-line, swerved past the full-back, who ought to have tackled him, and scored fifteen yards from the corner. Nicholls converted and New Zealand had won by thirteen points to ten. That mistaken kick to the open meant a chance for Svensen such as he never had through the initiation of attacks by his fellow backs, and he took it."