As was the case in 2013, Hawke’s Bay have travelled to Dunedin and snatched the Ranfurly Shield from Otago just a week into the southerners’ reign.
While that match ended with just two points separating the sides, Hawke’s Bay victory this year was much more convincing, with the Magpies triumphing 28-9.
The Magpies scored the only tries of the match, with Lolagi Visinia, Folau Fakatava, Isaia Walker-Leawere and Kurt Baker all touching down for the visiting side. While Visinia’s score was an absolute pearler of a team effort, Fakatava and Walker-Leawere’s were exceptional individual efforts.
Otago banked the early points through two quick Josh Ioane penalties but everything fell the Magpies’ way after that.
Visinia and Fakatava scored before halftime, then Otago fullback Vilimoni Koroi was sin-binned for recklessly taking out Hawke’s Bay’s replacement flyhalf, Caleb Makene late in the second stanza.
Ioane had kicked a third penalty shortly before Koroi’s yellow card but any hint of a fightback from the Shield holders was quickly snuffed out by Walker-Leawere’s 50-metre solo effort.
Adding further insult to injury, Otago flanker Slade McDowall was then sent off for a swinging arm in the tackle.
Experienced fullback Kurt Baker touched down with minutes remaining in the match to well and truly seal the result, but the writing had been on the wall for some time already.
Hawke’s Bay’s victory marks the third time that the Shield has changed hanged this year – and the third time in as many weeks. Otago won the Shield off Taranaki last weekend after the Bulls dominated traditional powerhouses Canterbury a week prior.
The Magpies, at least, have a week off before they’ll have to put the Ranfurly Shield up against Northland in two weeks’ time. Otago, meanwhile, must travel to Wellington next weekend.
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