Taranaki beat Canterbury in thriller to win Ranfurly Shield

Taranaki celebrate their epic Ranfurly Shield win over Canterbury. Photo: Getty Images
Taranaki celebrate their epic Ranfurly Shield win over Canterbury. Photo: Getty Images
The Ranfurly Shield is heading north.

As they did in 2017, Taranaki have snatched the Log o' Wood from Canterbury in Christchurch, with a late Jordie Barrett penalty sealing a 23-22 win.

While Barrett's late heroics sealed the win, it was Lachlan Boshier who was the difference-maker. Taranaki's openside flanker lived up to his billing as a menace at the breakdown, winning plenty of extra possessions for the side, none more important than his pilfer inside Taranaki's 22 with just two minutes left on the clock.

It was a play that ultimately sealed the win for Taranaki, whose last three Shield reigns have been at the expense of Canterbury.

An early penalty off the boot of Barrett put the challengers ahead after three minutes, but it was the following 10 minutes that gave Taranaki fans a reason to believe.

A piece of individual skill from young winger Jacob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens to toe a loose ball forward, collect the bounce and scoot across for the game's opening try. He was followed over soon after by lock Tupou Vaa'i, who was rewarded for backing up a break from Jordie Barrett.

Jacob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens gets away from Richie Mounga and Sam Whitelock to score. Photo:...
Jacob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens gets away from Richie Mounga and Sam Whitelock to score. Photo: Getty Images
Ahead 13-0 after 15 minutes, Taranaki had gotten off to a superb start, and their defence backed it up.

Working hard to attend every breakdown, plug every hole and make every tackle, Taranaki made it tough for Canterbury to get any fluidity in their attack, with Boshier making his presence felt at every breakdown.

A vintage play from Beauden Barrett put the stamp on the half for Taranaki. The Taranaki No 10 got the ball dep in his own half, sized up the defence and launched through a gap. Leaving the defence in his wake, Barrett sent Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens away on the inside, who stood up Richie Mo'unga to score his second.

With Canterbury only able to post a penalty from Mo'unga's boot in the first half, they had all the work to do in the second.

To their credit, they came back strongly.

Starting with a try to prop Oli Jager from close range early in the half, the ever-constant possibility of a Canterbury comeback lingered. Taranaki began to show signs of fatigue around the 50-minute mark, with all their tackling and defensive work from the first half catching up with them.

Canterbury took advantage and, after tries to Mo'unga and Andrew Knewstubb, they took the lead inside the final 10 minutes.

However, they lost it just moments later when Jordie Barrett kicked a penalty from 50m out, and Taranaki were able to close out the win for their first Ranfurly Shield reign since 2018.

Taranaki 23 (Jacob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens 2, Tupou Vaa'i tries; Jordie Barrett con, 2 pens)
Canterbury 22 (Oli Jager, Richie Mo'unga, Andrew Knewstubb tries; Richie Mo'unga 2 cons, pen)
HT: 20-3

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