Taranaki have stunned Canterbury 55-43 in Christchurch last night, winning the famous Ranfurly Shield for the first time since 2012.
Facing a 31-7 deficit at one stage, Taranaki rallied to record the highest score ever by a visiting side in a shield challenge.
Two tries by Lachlan Boshier in the second half proved crucial in a game where defence took a back seat. All Black Seta Tamanivalu also found his way to the line, alongside nephew Manasa Mataele – both of whom played starring roles on AMI Stadium for the Super Rugby champion Crusaders this year.
“I think it’s quite easy for a team, when you’re down that much (24 points), to go down by 60 points. But it shows the brotherhood and the bond we’ve got between these boys here, it was a special win for us.” said Taranaki hooker Ricky Riccitelli.
Meanwhile, Canterbury skipper Tim Bateman was at a loss for words.
“We’re absolutely gutted, we really are,” he said. “We felt like we had enough to win, as a team we just let ourselves down. What, we were 31-7 up? To let 48 points go like that…”
The loss is Canterbury’s second of the season in high scoring fashion, after they were walloped 60-14 by Wellington. Despite losing the shield, they remain top of the Mitre 10 Cup Premiership standings.
There’s no rest for the new holders, however. Taranaki have their first defence against local rivals Manawatu on Wednesday night, and a loss would see them take a slightly less sought-after record: shortest Ranfurly Shield tenure ever.