Waikato de­fend Shield

Fiji Sun - - Sport - Feed­back: os­eab@fi­jisun.com.fj

Hamil­ton: Waikato head coach Sean Bother­way was beam­ing with pride af­ter his side dug deep to hold on to the Ran­furly Shield for an­other week. North Har­bour were Waikato’s first chal­lengers from the na­tional pro­vin­cial cham­pi­onship in 2016, and they fi­nally came to the party af­ter the Mooloo men raced out to a 19-0 lead at Waikato Sta­dium in Hamil­ton. Tries from Michael Lit­tle and Bryn Hall ei­ther side of half-time ap­peared to flip the con­test in Har­bour’s favour. And Waikato had a lucky es­cape when ahead 19-15, when Matt Vaega was about to give Har­bour the lead. But he knocked on in the act of scor­ing, as Jor­dan Trainor did enough to dis­lodge the ball from his grasp. That des­per­ate play from Trainor was key in swing­ing the mo­men­tum back in Waikato’s favour. Atu Moli’s big hit on Bran­don Nansen then re­vi­talised the hold­ers, who soon went fur­ther ahead as hooker Hame Faiva scored in the 66th minute. The Mooloo men held on to win 26-15 in their 100th shield game and de­nied Har­bour their chance to win the shield back for the first time since 2007. “That was Ran­furly Shield rugby at its best,” said Bother­way. “We put our­selves un­der a lit­tle bit of pres­sure late in that first half, and prob­a­bly didn’t start the sec­ond so well, but I’m really proud of the boys.” Manawatu will chal­lenge Waikato for the shield on Sunday. Mitre 10 Cup re­sults Otago 44-21 Welling­ton, Manawatu 3431 South­land, Auck­land 37-15 North­land, Taranaki 56-28 Hawkes Bay. -Stuff

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