Taranaki steals Shield from Stags
Taranaki regained the Ranfurly Shield with a gritty 15-12 victory over Southland in their national provincial championship match in Invercargill on Wednesday.
Taranaki last held the shield 15 years ago, but dug deep to cut short Southland’s tenure to just one month in a dour, tryless match.
Coming off last Saturday’s 0-27 loss to Canterbury, Taranaki needed a strong start, as did Southland, whose last outing was a 30-35 loss to Wellington.
However, neither team impressed in a stop-start first half and although Southland dominated territorially, they were unable to convert that into points on the board.
Both teams worked their kicking game hard, not always to the best effect, and the match turned into something of an arm wrestle with both teams struggling to keep their games error-free.
A brace of penalties apiece saw the scores tied 6-6 after half an hour, Southland No.10 James Wilson trading blows with Taranaki counterpart Beauden Barrett.
And while Taranaki looked dangerous on the counterattack – they were boosted by the returning trio of halfback Tyson Keats, No.10 Beauden Barrett and fullback Andre Taylor from injury – they couldn’t string together enough phases to really threaten Southland.
Yet another penalty in the 39th minute was enough to give Taranaki a shaky 9-6 lead at the break.
The second half was more of the same, although Jackson Ormand did well to break through the Southland defence at the restart, and Taranaki looked to be running with more purpose.
The mistakes kept coming, as Southland came away with only another Wilson penalty for their efforts.
Barrett replied in kind, and with 15 minutes remaining Taranaki led 15-9.
Southland halfback Scott Cowan almost stole the game when he charged down a tired Keats clearing kick, but he was bundled into touch by the desperately chasing Barrett and Ormand five metres short.
Another Wilson penalty saw Southland close to within three, but Taranaki showed good discipline to close out the final minutes for the win.
* In the other NPC match on Wednesday Northland powered to a thrilling 43-34 victory over Hawke’s Bay in Whangarei.
It looked as though the Magpies were heading for the win, but a late Simon Munro try sealed snatched victory from the jaws of defeat just minutes from full-time for the home side.
Hawke’s Bay needed just one point to secure a place in the NPC Championship Final, but they will now be forced to fight for that on the road against Taranaki.
Scores and scorers for Wednesday’s games:
Southland 12-15 Taranaki:
Pens: Wilson 4
Pens: Barrett 5
Southland: 15 Robbie Robinson, 14 Kade Poki, 13 Kendrick Lynn, 12 Matt Saunders, 11 Glen Horton, 10 James Wilson, 9 Scott Cowan, 8 Elliot Dixon, 7 Tim Boys, 6 John Hardie, 5 Ben Nally, 4 Josh Bekhuis, 3 Chris King, 2 David Hall, 1 Jamie Mackintosh (captain).
Replacements: 16 Jason Rutledge, 17 Nick Barrett, 18 Michael Fatialofa, 19 Tom Chamberlain, 20 Sonny Rangitohereri, 21 Scott Eade, 22 Tony Koonwaiyou, 23 Michael Peterson.
Taranaki: 15 Andre Taylor, 14 Jackson Ormond, 13 Willie Rickards, 12 Jayden Hayward, 11 Frazier Climo, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Tyson Keats, 8 Ben Souness, 7 Scott Waldrom, 6 Chris Walker, 5 Craig Clarke (captain), 4 Jason Eaton, 3 Shane Cleaver, 2 Laurence Corlett, 1 Michael Bent.
Replacements: 16 Timo Tutavaha, 17 Carl Carmichael, 18 James Broadhurst, 19 Samuela Vunisa, 20 Brett Goodin, 21 Jack Cameron, 22 Kurt Baker, 23 Willie Ioane.
Referee: Nick Briant
Northland 43-34 Hawke’s Bay:
Tries: Wallis 2, S Munro 2, Mason, Dunn
Cons: L Munro 5
Pen: L Munro
Tries: Retallick, Horrell, Buckman
Cons: Horrell 2
Pens: Horrell 5
Northland: 15 Jared Payne (captain), 14 Simon Munro, 13 Warren Dunn, 12 Aaron Bancroft, 11 Bryce Heem, 10 Lachie Munro, 9 Wayne Ngaluafe, 8 Cameron Eyre, 7 Danny Mason, 6 Dan Faleafa, 5 Mark Burman, 4 Bryce Williams, 3 Scott Vessey, 2 Tim Dow, 1 Matt Wallis.
Replacements: 16 Ross Wright, 17 Justin Davies, 18 Matt Harrison, 19 Joel McKenty, 20 Rhyan Caine, 21 Derek Carpenter, 22 Jack McPhee, 23 Aterea Davis.
Hawke’s Bay: 15 Mark Jackman, 14 Richard Buckman, 13 Tu Umaga-Marshall, 12 Andrew Horrell, 11 Gillies Kaka, 10 Daniel Kirkpatrick, 9 Chris Eaton, 8 Mike Coman (captain), 7 Karl Lowe, 6 Trent Boswell-Wakefield, 5 Bryn Evans, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Ben Tameifuna, 2 Hikairo Forbes, 1 Kas Lealamanua.
Replacements: 16 Danny Logan, 17 Brendon Edmonds, 18 Maselino Paulino, 19 Adam Bradey, 20 Isaac Paewai, 21 Tua Saseve, 22 Sinoti Sinoti, 23 Jody Allen.
Referee: Glen Jackson