A short reign but a memorable one

Otago players looking dejected after losing the Ranfurly Shield yesterday are (from left) Fa'asiu...
Otago players looking dejected after losing the Ranfurly Shield yesterday are (from left) Fa'asiu Fuatai, Paul Grant, Tom Franklin, Kieran Moffat, Michael Collins, Josh Renton and Lee Allan. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
Oh well, what a nine days it was. Otago relinquished the Ranfurly Shield yesterday, losing to Hawkes Bay 20-19 in a titanic battle at Forsyth Barr Stadium in front of a crowd of 18,185.

After waiting more than 20,000 days to get the coveted Log o' Wood, Otago failed to defend it in its first challenge, although it was not through a lack of trying.

It was not a record for the shortest defence - that is held by Waikato which had it for just seven days in 2007, and Wellington, which had it for a week in 1963.

Otago gave it its best shot yesterday and was running on empty by the end of the game, but Hawkes Bay just did enough to end its own lengthy drought. The shield was last in Napier in 1969.

The shield has been travelling the Otago province in those nine days and it has been an uplifting experience to finally get the hands on the Log o' Wood.

And all may not be lost.

Provided Hawkes Bay can fend off Counties-Manukau on Saturday, North Harbour will have a challenge this month. .

The men from Harbour always have one good game in them and for Otago's sake let's hope it is on September 29 in Napier.

Six days later Otago will play North Harbour in Auckland.


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