New high for weary Jones

Rugby Union: South Africa 26 New Zealand 33
Click to follow
As Jonah Lomu, booted and suited, led New Zealand's reserve squad in a celebration haka in the stands moments after the All Blacks had clinched their first series win in South Africa, another All Black climbed wearily from the body-strewn turf in the far left-hand corner of the pitch.

Michael Jones would not have immediately noticed Lomu's delight. He was far too exhausted but for a man whose international career almost ended seven years ago the pain and suffering barely mattered.

Jones had been at the very heart of a fierce New Zealand defensive action late in the second half as the Springboks threatened to complete an unlikely comeback win.

Jones, though, should not have been there at all. In 1989 he ruptured the ligaments of his right knee so severely that his surgeons told him he might never walk properly again, never mind play top class rugby.

Jones, however, has an inner strength built on strict religious beliefs. He refused to accept the medical verdict and fought his way back to the highest level.

"There were times when I wondered if I could get back. There were plenty of dark moments in the 13 months I spent out of the game," he explained.

"This makes it all worthwhile. I was in the 1987 side that won the first World Cup but winning a series in South Africa rates alongside that achievement.I just don't know how much longer I can go on. I certainly don't think I will be around for the next World Cup in 1999."

Leading 21-11 at half-time New Zealand seemed to be well on the way to a 2-0 series win, but tries from Reuben Kruger and Joost van der Westhuizen put the Springboks back within a point.

Jon Preston, on a second half replacement for Simon Culhane, kicked two crucial late penalties before No 8 Zinzan Brooke added an injury-time drop goal to give New Zealand their ninth successive win this year.

South Africa: Tries Strydom, Kruger, Van der Westhuizen; Conversions Stransky; Penalties Stransky 3. New Zealand: Tries Wilson 2, Z Brooke; Conversions Culhane 3; Penalties Culhane, Preston 2.

SOUTH AFRICA: A Joubert (Natal); J Swart (Western Province), A Snyman (Transvaal), D Van Schalkwyk (Northern Transvaal), P Hendriks (Transvaal); J Stransky (Western Province), J van der Westhuizen (Northern Transvaal); O du Randt (OFS), H Tromp (Northern Transvaal), M Hurter (Northern Transvaal), H Strydon (Transvaal), M Andrews (Natal), R Kruger (Northern Transvaal), A Venter (OFS), G Teichmann (Natal, capt).

NEW ZEALAND: C Cullen (Manawatu); J Wilson (Otago), F Bunce (North Harbour), W Little (North Harbour), G Osborne (North Harbour); S Culhane (Southland), J Marshall (Canterbury); C Dowd (Auckland), S Fitzpatrick (Auckland, capt), O Brown (Auckland), R Brooke (Auckland), I Jones (North Harbour), M Jones (Auckland), J Kronfeld (Otago), Z Brooke (Auckland).

Referee: D Mene (France).

Morne du Plessis, the South African manager, has complained to the New Zealand management about the behaviour of the All Blacks captain, Sean Fitzpatrick, during Saturday's second Test but he stressed the Springboks are not citing Fitzpatrick over an incident where he was penalised for stiff-arming Gary Teichmann, the South African captain, while making a tackle.