In a thrilling encounter, Waikato have retained the Ranfurly Shield after drawing with Taranki in Hamilton this evening.
There was controversy late in this game. Returning All Black midfielder Seta Tamanivalu was penalized for an apparent late shoulder charge, as Waikato charged downfield. Referee Ben O’Keeffe denied a late try by Stephen Perofeta that would have seen Taranaki clinch the match.
The tackle by Tamanivalu was late, he hit with his shoulder, but whether the midfielder was able to pull out in time will be debated in the fallout of this match.
Play was brought all the way back up field, and Sam Christie was able to tie the scores when Taranki were penalised trying to defend their line. A tie sees Waikato retain the Ranfurly Shield, and Taranaki will be forced to wonder what might have been.
It was a frantic and controversial way to end the match, 20-20.
For 60-minutes, it looked like Waikato would finally lose their grip on the Log O’ Wood. Taranaki came to play, and they will be kicking themselves that they let Waikato come back in the game.
Fresh off a grueling encounter against Counties Manukau, one could argue that Taranaki just ran out of gas. The score reads 20-20, and somehow, someway, Waikato have retained provincial rugby’s most coveted prize once again.
— Mitre10 Cup (@Mitre10Cup) September 18, 2016
A Scrappy Game Leads To Frantic Finish
All Black halfback Tawera Kerr-Barlow was sent off in the opening minutes of the match. This set the scene for what would be a frustrating game for Waikato.
Taranaki scored the first try, setup by a brilliant left step from winger Manasa Mataele and finished off by Johnny Faauli.
Scrappy rugby prevailed in the first half, both sides were on the receiving end of high penalty counts. Taranki missed a few opportunities in the first half, not to the amusement of coach Colin Cooper.
Toa Halafihi was impressive for Taranaki. The big number eight put his side in the box seat with his second try of the day, forcing the ball down after a pushover scrum.
Sadly for the visitors, they always looked the better side in the day. The result just didn’t go their way in the end.
Holding a slim lead to begin the second half, Toa Halafihi was a big part of Taranki’s success. The big number eight put his side in the box seat with his second try of the day, forcing the ball down after a pushover scrum.
— JudgeRugby (@JudgeRugby) September 18, 2016
Sevu Reece Impresses For Waikato Again
Sevu Reece (main picture) came up with a try for Waikato on the halftime whistle. It was a piece of individual brilliance from Reece to score, and the youngster found his way to the try line again in the second half to put his side into a brief lead.
Hame Faiva used all his experience to try and calm Waikato in the late stages. With a brilliant inside pass from Faiva, youngster Tyler Campbell was able to touch down in the corner in his provincial debut.
Toa Halafihi was a big part of Taranki’s success. The big number eight put his side in the box seat with his second try of the day, forcing the ball down after a pushover scrum.
Waikato Keep Ranfurly Shield After Late Comeback
Waikato move up the Premiership table in the Mitre 10 Cup. With several of their key players still under injury, the task doesn’t get any easier from here. Sam Christie has sealed his place in the squad but will likely move back to the midfield, if Damian McKenzie is fit by Friday.
The next opponent is Counties Manuaku, away in Pukekohe on Friday.
Tries: Sevu Reece (2) Tyler Campbell Con: Sam Christi (1) Pen: Christi (1)
Tries: Johnny Faauli, Toa Halafihi (2) Con: Marty McKenzie (1) Pen: McKenzie (1)
“Main photo credit”