Great tries: Test revenge is sweet

Peter Jones on the charge for the All Blacks against the Springboks in Johannesburg in 1960.
Photo / Herald archives
Peter Jones on the charge for the All Blacks against the Springboks in Johannesburg in 1960. Photo / Herald archives

As a piece of individual brilliance and athleticism, there have probably been better All Black forward tries than that scored by Peter Jones five minutes into the second spell of the fourth test against the Springboks at Eden Park in 1956.

There was Ian Kirkpatrick's extraordinary burst from inside his own half to score against the Lions in the second test at Lancaster Park in 1971, as just one example.

But not even Kirkpatrick's try has etched itself into New Zealand rugby folklore as much as Jones's, which was the only All Blacks' try in the 11-5 win over the Springboks.

This was because of the circumstances of that South African tour, which aroused a national fervour that has never been equalled.

Until 1956 the All Blacks had never won a series against the Springboks, and in 1956 many New Zealanders were still seething over the defeats in 1937 and 1949.

Over the 4-0 whitewash suffered by Fred Allen's side in South Africa in 1949 there was particular resentment at what was seen as biased refereeing. So there was a spirit of revenge in the air as the fourth test loomed, with the All Blacks having taken an edge in the series by winning an exciting third test 17-10 at Lancaster Park.

That was the game in which Don Clarke, the Waikato kicking colossus, had been introduced at fullback, and Kevin Skinner and Peter Jones had been recalled to the pack.

So everything depended on the fourth test result, and it drew a crowd of 61,240, still a New Zealand test record.

The All Blacks held a shaky 3-0 halftime lead, after Clarke had landed the second of two long-range penalty goal attempts.

But five minutes into the second spell Jones's try secured the victory. From a lineout near the Springboks' 10m mark the ball was spilled by the Springbok halfback "Popeye" Strydom, All Black hooker Ron Hemi toed it ahead for the fast following Jones to receive a favourable bounce.

He grasped the ball ahead of Springbok captain Basie Viviers and, with startling pace for a big man, raced into the clear, beating a would-be covering tackler to score near the posts. Clarke's conversion made it 8-0, and the way rugby was played then that lead was virtually unassailable.

Another Clarke penalty made it even safer at 11-0, with the Springboks' converted try coming too late to affect the result.

Seldom has an All Black win created so much jubilation and in the aftermath Jones became even more of a national icon. Unaware he was talking on national radio, Jones announced he was "absolutely buggered".

In those years saying "bugger," in polite company, was taboo. But even in those straitlaced times few New Zealanders took offence, such was the affection for Jones. The civil servants then running national radio were the only exceptions. For many years the Jones' tape was locked away with strict instructions it was never to be aired again.

Concession from Doc Craven
"We lie prostrate at your feet," South Africa's manager Danie Craven said at the post-match dinner.

"We have taken the count without a shadow of a doubt," said Craven, a thorn in the side of the All Blacks as a player almost 20 years earlier.

Analysing the tour he said his side made too many mistakes, the All Blacks played a ruthless tight brand of rugby far different to that in 1937.

"We have paid more for mistakes in this series than for years in the history of South African rugby.

'Your desire to beat us was more than just desire. That was evident from the preparations you made. The result was that this New Zealand team was much harder to beat," he said.

Great tries:
1987: John Kirwan vs France
1995: John Lomu vs England
1997: Christian Cullen v Australia
2000: Jonah Lomu v Australia
Tries against the All Blacks

- NZ Herald

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