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Lynn McConnell

Southland-born Lynn McConnell is a sportswriter/historian with 40 years experience in journalism having been sports editor of The Evening Post and The Southland Times. Lynn has written several books including 'Behind the Silver Fern: Playing Rugby for New Zealand' together with Tony Johnson.

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Last call for Newlands as a Test venue?

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Lynn McConnell     23 Jun 2018     Getty Images

The site of many famous All Blacks-Springboks clashes, and one of the great Rugby World Cup semi-finals, Newlands is likely to be supplanted for Tests by the Cape Town Stadium. 
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No official announcement has been made on its future but all the attention ahead of the third Test has been about it being the last Test at the ground. It is set to fade into rugby memory in the same way as Athletic Park in Wellington which was replaced by Westpac Stadium.

Ten Tests between the countries have been played at the ground in which New Zealand has won seven and South Africa three. New Zealand also played an 11th Test at the ground when it recorded a 47-28 win over England in a semi-final of the 1995 Rugby World Cup.

The All Blacks played their first Test at the ground in 1928 when winning the fourth Test to level the series by claiming a famous 13-5 victory, the first Test of the series for five-eighths Mark Nicholls. Prop Tuna Swain scored the only try for the All Blacks while Nicholls, playing at second five-eighths, kicked two penalty goals and a dropped goal, in the days when they were worth four points.

It was the first Test venue again in 1949 when South Africa, playing their first Test since 1938 and with all their side making their Test debuts, won the first of four Test wins over the All Blacks in that series, 15-11, all 15 points coming from the boot of goal-kicking prop Okey Geffin, the third-choice Springbok kicker in the game.

The 1960 tourists kept the series alive when winning 11-3 in the second Test. However, it wasn't until seven minutes remained in the game that they were able to break the 3-3 impasse that had stood since the 26th minute. Good pressure by the All Blacks backs Frank McMullen and Kevin Laidlaw saw ball turned over for Terry Lineen to give a pass inside to Colin Meads who had been in support to score a try which Don Clarke converted before finishing the game with a left-foot dropped goal.

In 1970 halfback Chris Laidlaw and flanker Ian Kirkpatrick scored tries while fullback Fergie McCormick kicked the winning penalty goal three minutes from time to reverse the 6-17 loss the All Blacks had suffered in the first Test to win 9-8.

They weren't so lucky in 1976 when going down 15-10 in the third Test. The All Blacks went into the game without a regular goalkicker with the long range duties falling to Bryan Williams, who landed two penalty goal, including one from 55m out, and Sid Going. Centre Bruce Robertson scored after Springbok wing Gerrie Germishuys had been caught with the ball in his own 22m area. However, an All Blacks back movement broke down when a long pass from second five-eighths Joe Morgan to fullback Kit Fawcett rebounded off Fawcett's shoulder into the arms of Johan Oosthuizen who ran 45m to score what was the crucial try in South Africa's win.

The 1995 Rugby World Cup game had a special place in New Zealand rugby as England were taken apart 45-29 in Jonah Lomu's four-try blitz which lifted himself and world rugby into the stratosphere and hastened the advance of the professional game. England's 29 was largely superfluous, the damage had been done much earlier in the game.

A year later New Zealand were back for a full-scale tour of South Africa. South Africa led 18-6 at halftime and the signs were not looking good. However, two Andrew Mehrtens penalty goals reduced the deficit and then the backs unleashed for wing Glenn Osborne to score to give New Zealand the lead. The All Blacks stole consecutive lineouts and in the mauling play after the second, prop Craig Dowd drove over from short range to secure a 29-18 win, the 11-point margin being New Zealand's biggest in a Test in South Africa.

Cape Town's ability to sometimes turn on conditions more associated with those in Wellington at the old Athletic Park resulted in a tryless Test in 2001 when the All Blacks claimed a 12-3 win with first five-eighths Tony Brown landing four penalty goals.

In 2005 in the wake of the All Blacks' success over the British & Irish Lions, South Africa got back on the winning side of the ledger at the ground with a 22-16 win. The teams scored a try apiece to Jean de Villiers and Rico Gear.

In 2008, the All Blacks poured on a 19-0 win, the first time South Africa had been held scoreless in their own country. Richie McCaw's grubber kicking skills produced the first try for centre Conrad Smith while first five-eighths Dan Carter revealed his flexibility when touching the ball down while on his back for a try while hooker Keven Mealamu made use of an intercept to score the third try of the game.

Because of the amount of support the All Blacks received whenever in Cape Town from the coloured and black fans, South Africa avoided playing the All Blacks there again until 2017. But that still didn't stop the All Blacks securing a 25-24 win against a South African side determined to make up for their 57-0 hammering in Albany earlier in the Investec Rugby Championship. The winning advantage was secured when a yellow card to centre Damian de Allende on five-eighths Lima Sopoaga resulted in a penalty goal which carried the game out to an eight-point margin with time running out.