The Ranfurly Shield is on the move again.
For the second time in a week, the Log o’ Wood has changed hands with Otago the new holders following a 30-19 win over Taranaki in Inglewood today.
It hasn’t been that long a wait for the men from the south, who had the Shield just over a year ago before losing it to Canterbury. The amber and blacks’ reign ends at just eight days, the third shortest on record.
Otago’s first challenge will be against Hawke’s Bay next Sunday as they look to avoid a repeat of their short reign in 2013 which lasted just one week after a defeat by the Magpies.
Taranaki’s heroics in Christchurch last week were quickly forgotten when Otago got out to a fast start with the aid of the wind before taking a 22-5 lead into the break.
The hosts, who were without All Blacks Beauden and Jordie Barrett, cut the lead to 10 shortly after halftime when Kaylum Boshier crossed over but that was as close as they got to mounting a comeback.
There was an All Black number 10 on the field for Otago though and Josh Ioane orchestrated their backline perfectly, finishing with 15 points in the victory.
Otago captain Michael Collins couldn’t wipe the smile off his face after receiving the Shield.
“It’s awesome. It’s why I think the Shield is so special,” he told Sky Sport.
Possibly a hangover from last Saturday’s win over Canterbury or the visitors just using the wind to the advantage, but Otago looked unstoppable in the first half, with a dominant forwards platform that saw them cross over three times for a commanding halftime lead.
It was a lead Otago were hellbent on holding onto and getting their hands back on the famed piece of wood. In 2013 they broke a 56-year drought without the Shield and today they begin their third tenure since.
Otago assistant coach Ryan Martin put it succinctly into words at the break.
“The last time we won the Shield someone ruptured his testicle, so we need to put our nuts on the line in the second half,” he told Sky Sport.
Taranaki managed to strike first in the second half to make it 22-12 giving the hosts some hope. But the result became a formality and the Speights were put on ice when Ioane kicked a penalty to extend Otago’s lead to 30-12 with eight minutes left.
Otago 30 (Dylan Nel, Freedom Vahaakolo, Liam Coltman, Josh Ioane tries; Ioane 2 cons, 2 pens)
Taranaki 19 (Stephen Perofeta, Kaylum Boshier, Lachlan Boshier tries; Jayson Potroz con, Daniel Waite con)
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