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Kiwis' stunning win in Tri-Nations clash; SOUTH AFRICA 23 NEW ZEALAND 30.

NEW Zealand put themselves in the driving seat for a fourth Tri-nations crown by beating South Africa in a match that will be remembered for referee David McHugh being tackled by a spectator.

The All Blacks scored three tries and were awarded a penalty try to win a bonus point and extend their lead at the top of the standings to five points over holders Australia, who face an uphill battle to complete a hat-trick of titles.

The Wallabies play their final match against the Springboks next Saturday in Johannesburg and must land at least four tries and score 26 points more than their opponents to prevent the trophy crossing the Tasman Sea on points difference.

The players were upstaged in this match early in the second half when a burly male spectator crashed into McHugh as the Irishman set a scrum.

Players attempted to separate the pair but not before McHugh fell awkwardly under his assailant.

McHugh left the field in a golf cart, leaving the whistle to England's Chris White who had started the match as a touch judge.

South Africa made the perfect start to the match when scrumhalf Neil de Kock scored in the second minute after hooker James Dalton won possession at a loose scrum. New Zealand struck two minutes later when fullback Leon MacDonald scored but flyhalf Andrew Mehrtens pushed the conversion wide to leave the Springboks 7-5 ahead.

New Zealand soon led 12-7 after McHugh awarded a penalty try for centre Marius Joubert's high tackle on opposite number Tana Umaga a metre from the hosts' tryline.

Andre Pretorius pulled back three points for the Springboks with a penalty to make it 12-10 in the 27th minute.

With eight minutes remaining in the first half, Pretorius broke down the right touchline, chipped the defence and gathered to score.

The flyhalf's own acute conversion put South Africa 17-12 in front. But four minutes later Umaga sprinted past the Springbok defence and offloaded to right wing Doug Howlett who scored to leave the match level at 17-17.

Mehrtens and Pretorius exchanged penalties early in the second half before Pretorius put South Africa ahead with a drop goal.

Another Mehrtens penalty squared it at 23-23 with 17 minutes left on the clock.

Ten minutes from fulltime centre Aaron Mauger was on the end of a sustained passage of play to score the matchwinning try for the Kiwis.


HELD UP... Leon Macdonald is tackled by Breyton Paulse
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Title Annotation:Rugby Union
Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Aug 11, 2002
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