ITM Cup: Waikato 31 - 22 Northland
Mooloos retain Ranfurly Shield
August 17, 2013
Rory Grice produced a powerful performance
© Getty Images
Waikato repelled a bold challenge for the Ranfurly Shield from Northland, winning their ITM Cup first-round match 31-22 in Hamilton. The home side scored three tries to one but they secured a fourth successful defence of the shield only when Chiefs prop Toby Smith burrowed over with five minutes to play.
Northland, who haven't held the shield since 1978, trailed 18-9 at half-time but scrum-half Sonatane Takulua sliced through a gap at the base of the scrum to score their only try within one minute of the restart. Faultless goalkicker Ben Seymour converted and slotted two more penalties in his 17-point haul to keep the challengers within range, cancelling two penalties landed by Waikato fullback Trent Renata. But Smith had the final say in heavy rain, adding to the first-half tries scored by flanker Rory Grice and wing Joe Webber.
The new-look Waikato side, missing injured Chiefs forwards Matt Vant Leven and Ben Tameifuna, faced a far stiffer task defending the Shield than when seeing off pre-season challenges from Heartland Championship sides Horowhenua-Kapiti and East Coast. And they were guilty of basic errors against Northland, who defied their second-tier Championship division status by jolting the Premiership side into mistakes and poor options.
Waikato will put the Ranfurly Shield on the line again next week, when they host Otago on Friday.
The Mooloos show off the spoils of combat © Getty Images