HALFBACK, Stacey Jones was Man of the Match as the Kiwis carved out a controversial 22-16 win over Great Britain in the First Test at Alfred McAlpine Stadium, Huddersfield, played in front of a crowd of 18,509.
The Kiwis were looking for their first Test series win in the UK since 1971, when they were captained by Roy Christian and coached by Lory Blanchard. This time prop, Quentin Pongia was skipper with Frank Endacott the coach. Britain were captained by Andy Farrell and coached by Andy Goodway.
Australian referee, Bill Harrigan had control of the game and was at the centre of two controversies highlighted by the British media.
The first incident occurred as the hooter sounded for the end of the first half. As the British players relaxed and prepared to walk off, Harrigan allowed play to continue, and New Zealand prop, Joe Vagana took full advantage, to canter 30 metres past a bemused defence, and score near the posts. Daryl Halligan converted to give the Kiwis a 12-2 lead. Television replays showed the hooter had sounded just after NZ fullback, Richie Barnett had risen to his feet. He had not, at that stage, put the ball down to play it to Vagana. The bottom line is, the Poms did not play the whistle.
“As a 10 year-old, you are taught to play the whistle,” said Endacott.
The second incident came close to full time, with NZ leading 22-16. The Brits were applying enormous pressure, but their efforts came to nothing when centre, Keith Senior was driven into touch by Robbie Paul, after Senior had fielded a kick from Farrell. The British were incensed, claiming Paul had hit Senior before he received the ball, and also had taken him out in the air. Harrigan awarded a penalty, but the Brits claimed it should have been a penalty try.
The Second and Third Tests were to be played at Bolton and Watford respectively.
FIRST TEST SCORES: New Zealand 22 (Steve Kearney, Joe Vagana, Stacey Jones, Robbie Paul tries; Daryl Halligan 3 goals) d Great Britain 16(Keith Senior, Paul Newlove, Jason Robinson tries; Andy Farrell 2 goals).
Penalties: GB 9-3. Scrums GB 9-3.
Photo: British replacement forward, Simon Haughton races clear of Kiwi rivals, Stacey Jones and Nathan Cayless.