The Kiwis come to Hull: The Robins’ last international victory

Category: Heritage

The Kiwis come to Hull: The Robins’ last international victory

Hull Kingston Rovers 12 – New Zealand Kiwis 10

Fresh off their 1971 Yorkshire Cup win over Castleford, Hull KR prepared to face the touring New Zealand side at Craven Park. New Zealand’s 1971 side was the first official touring side to win a series against Great Britain and came to the country with a point to prove.

The New Zealand tourists of 1971 played 20 matches in England, winning the test series against Great Britain 2-1 and winning eight of their 17 matches against club sides. Their evening game against Hull KR on Wednesday 8 September was just their third game in the UK, having beaten Rochdale Hornets and lost to St Helens in their first two.

Coached by Hull legend Johnny Whiteley MBE, the Robins’ side featured a host of club legends including Roger Millward, John Millington and Peter ‘Flash’ Flanagan as they went toe to toe with the best of New Zealand.

Despite the tourists taking an early lead, KR hit back with tries from Ian Markham, Peter Flanagan and Paul Rose, with one conversion from Phil Coupland, and led 11-5 at half-time. The tourists came back in the second half with a converted try to narrow the gap to one point, but Mike Stephenson, who started on the wing that day but moved to off-half after Roger Millward had gone off with an injury, dropped a goal and Rovers hung on for a 12-10 win.

It was the first one-point drop goal to be kicked in this country, where the one-point drop goal was not adopted until 1974 – these tour games were played under international rules, which introduced the one-pointer that year.

It was KRs’ third and final win over New Zealand in five games; they subsequently lost to the Kiwis in 1980 and 1985, and it was the Robins’ last win over a national touring side.

The Rovers team that day was – Ian Markham; Mike Stephenson, Phil Coupland, George Kirkpatrick, David Wainwright; Roger Millward (Johnny Moore), Paul Daley; Steve Wiley, Peter Flanagan, John Millington, Cliff Wallis, Paul Rose, Colin Cooper (Eric Palmer). The attendance was 5,663 and the referee was George Wilson of Dewsbury.

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