South Africa. . .14
JOHN KIRWAN, the All Blacks winger, scored a record 67th try for his country and a 25th in Test matches as New Zealand won the first of a three-match series here yesterday.
The victory ended a three-match losing sequence, but South Africa were left to rue missed chances and paid the price for giving away too many penalties.
In the first 25 minutes of an intensely physical contest, New Zealand's Ian Jones was led from the field with a hairline cheekbone fracture and the South African prop Balie Swart was sidelined with heavy concussion.
Several players on both sides were warned for off-the-ball clashes, and the South African scrum-half, Johan Roux, was lucky to escape with a caution after stamping on New Zealand's captain, Sean Fitzpatrick.
New Zealand led by four penalties to one at half-time, but the contest came alive after the break when the South African full-back, Andre Joubert, kicked a penalty and then opened up the All Black defence to set up a try for Rudolf Straeuli.
The All Blacks then raised their game, and Kirwan ran through on the overlap to score after a drive by Mike Brewer and a pass from Zinzan Brooke. The kicking of Shane Howarth, the New Zealand full-back, was also decisive. Howarth, playing in his first Test, struck six successful attempts out of seven, including one penalty from more than 40 metres.
'It's only a start as far as we are concerned,' said Laurie Mains, the All Black coach, grateful that his side had now stopped the rot.
'We've got to just have a look, and find out why, and make it better,' Ian McIntosh, the South African coach, said. 'You can't play a Test match where you're 13-2 or 12-2 penalties down at half-time.'
The second Test will be played at Wellington on 23 July and the third in Auckland two weeks later.
New Zealand: Try: Kirwan. Conversion: Howarth. Penalties: Howarth 5.
South Africa: Try: Straeuli. Penalties: Joubert 3.
NEW ZEALAND: S Howarth; J Kirwan, F Bunce, A Ieremia, J Timu; S Bachop, G Bachop; Z Brooke, M Brewer, M Cooksley, I Jones, B Larsen, O Brown, S Fitzpatrick (capt), R Loe. Replacement: A Pene for I Jones, 9; C Dowd for Pene, 75).
SOUTH AFRICA: A Joubert; J Small, P Muller, B Venter, C Williams; H le Roux, J Roux; A Richter, R Straeuli, S Atherton, M Andrews, T Strauss (capt), J le Roux, J Allan, B Swart. Replacement: G Kebble for Swart, 23.
Referee: B Stirling (Ireland).
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