Waikato complete 18th successive Ranfurly Shield defence
by Huw Turner
July 23, 2000

By beating second division Wanganui 86-3 in Tokoroa, the Shield holders extended their tenure, which began in September 1997 when they beat Auckland at Eden Park.

In showery conditio Waikato ran in 14 tries, wing Bruce Reihana top scoring with four of those.The bigger and more experienced Waikato tight five, led by ex-All Black Royce Willis, were too powerful for Wanganui.Openside flanker Nick Holten, a Dutch international, had an outstanding game which was capped by two tries.The back four of Todd Miller, Roger Randle, Keith Lowen and Reihana were a constant menace to the home side's defence , which was constantly overwhelmed by Waikato's ability to recycle possession.

Waikato scored eight of their tries in the first half for a lead of 48-0 at thr break. Wanganui's only points came after 14 minutes of the second half when winger Johnny Muir kicked a penalty.Waikato lost their way a little in the second half but came back strongly to score three tries in the final nine minutes.

Waikato now enter a phase of the season when they will face much sterner challenges. The NPC Championship begins on August 11 and their next defence is on August 19 in Hamilton against Northland. After that they are scheduled to meet Southland, North Harbour, Canterbury and Auckland. It would come as no great surprise if they were to lose one of those fixtures, particularly against either Canterbury or Auckland.

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