Preston's party kick

South Africa 26 New Zealand 33
Click to follow
The Independent Online
Jon Preston started the game as on the replacements' bench but walked off the Loftus Verfeld ground yesterday having kicked the All Blacks to a historic victory over South Africa.

Preston climbed off the bench midway through the second half to land two penalty goals that were enough to give the All Blacks their first series win in South Africa. Preston, Wellington's scrum-half, had only been on the field for a few seconds as a substitute for the outside-half Simon Culhane before he drilled over an angled kick to push New Zealand 27-23 ahead.

Then, after Joel Stransky had cut the All Black lead to a single point again, Preston took on a kick from just inside his own half. With only five minutes on the clock New Zealand needed Preston to restore the four- point gap and put Stransky's speciality drop goal beyond victory's range. Preston duly slotted the goal, and moments later Zinzan Brooke nailed an injury-time drop goal to seal New Zealand's victory and give them a 2-0 lead in the three-match series.

Yet New Zealand should never have left it so late. They had bounced back after conceding a third-minute try, scored by the lock Hannes Strydom, to lead 21-11 at half-time. Their wing Jeff Wilson was on the end of a flowing move set up by the scrum-half Justin Marshall, and carried on by the second-rowers Robin Brooke and Ian Jones, to score in the 13th minute. Then, in the 23rd minute, Marshall and Christian Cullen combined to open up the South African backline, and Wilson collected his own chip kick ahead to dive for the line. Four minutes from the break, the No 8 Zinzan Brooke hammered his way over after a double move from the back of the scrum.

But South Africa were in no mood to quit. A pushover try by the flanker Ruben Kruger in the 59th minute gave South Africa hope, and three minutes later the capacity crowd was baying for blood as the scrum-half Joost van der Westhuizen pounced on a loose ball to score, cutting New Zealand's lead to a point - though Stransky missed the vital conversion. As they have done so many times before in the past few weeks, New Zealand dug deep in the final minutes, and Preston and Brooke provided the moments to savour.

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 (Orange Free State), H Tromp (Northern Transvaal), M Hurter (Northern Transvaal), H Strydom (Transvaal), M Andrews (Natal), R Kruger (Northern Transvaal), G Teichmann (Natal, capt), A Venter (OFS). Replacements: K Wiese (Transvaal) for H Strydom 27, J Dalton (Transvaal) for Tromp, 65, W Fyvie (Western Province) for Teichmann, 72.

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), Z Brooke (Auckland), J Kronfeld (Otago). Replacements: J Preston (Wellington) for Culhane 63, A Blowers (Auckland) for Kronfeld 71, B Larsen (North Harbour) for I Jones, 71.

Referee: D Mene (France).

Comments