Taranaki steal the Ranfurly Shield in stunning fashion

Captain Angus Ta'avao of Taranaki and his team mates pose with the Ranfurly Shield their win against Canterbury on October 6, 2017 in Christchurch. Photo: Getty Images
Captain Angus Ta'avao of Taranaki and his team mates pose with the Ranfurly Shield their win against Canterbury. Photo: Getty Images

Taranaki have pulled off one of the greatest Ranfurly Shield heists, coming from 24 points down to steal the Shield off Canterbury in astonishing circumstances.

Down 31-7 after 27 minutes, the Shield was already being stored away in the Canterbury trophy room for the summer. Somehow, 53 minutes later, Taranaki were holding the Shield aloft for their sixth tenure.

What happened in between? Chaos. Absolute chaos.

In a blink of the eye, Taranaki turned from turnstiles to terrors. Seta Tamanivalu was ripping the Canterbury defence to shreds, Lachlan Boshier was everywhere, and Marty McKenzie was kicking conversions from three rows deep in the stands.

Such hyperbole is exactly what the game demanded. Taranaki scored 48 points in the last 47 minutes, for goodness sakes. The teams combined to run in 13 tries, and some of them were of the highest class.

A 55-43 Shield contest would be memorable under any circumstances, but these scenes were truly unexpected. After all, Canterbury had looked so dominant in the first half hour - it was shaping up as a routine defence, and Canterbury's name was also being pre-emptively carved into the Premiership trophy.

Tries to Rob Thompson and Tom Sanders had Canterbury on top early, and a 60 metre intercept from Tim Bateman indicated a rout was on the cards.

Taranaki looked aimless on attack. Their kicking game was giving the likes of George Bridge possession in dangerous places, and Canterbury were cashing in. Their defence wasn't much better, as Bridge stepped past three men on his way to the line.

Canterbury were suddenly threatening another one of their Shield spankings, but the tide started to turn before the half. Taranaki suddenly found some room to run, and reeled off two tries to get them back within 10 points by the half.

By then, seven tries had been scored, and somehow, six more were still to come.

Two of them came to the impressive Boshier, who initially was in the right place to snag a Tamanivalu offload and dive over. Suddenly, the amber and blacks were back within three, and there was still 25 minutes remaining.

Still, Canterbury hadn't lost at home in two years, and the smart money was on them steadying the ship.

However, the ship was sinking under Taranaki's never-ending waves of pressure. Boshier put the visitors in front, and mere seconds later, Manasa Mataele plucked a Richie Mo'unga chip out of the air, and raced away 50 metres to stun the parochial home crowd. When McKenzie slotted his seventh conversion for a perfect kicking night, a stunning victory was secured.

The turnaround means Taranaki are now favoured to take home advantage into the playoffs, and they have the small matter of a Shield defence against Manawatu on Wednesday.

But that's all for another day. For now, let us bask in one of the most famous victories in Ranfurly Shield lore.


Taranaki: 55 (Lachlan Boshier 2, Seta Tamanivalu, Stephen Perofeta, Pita Sowakula, Ricky Riccitelli, Manasa Mataele tries; Marty McKenzie 7 cons, pen, Perofeta drop goal)

Canterbury: 43 (Rob Thompson 2, Tom Sanders, Tim Bateman, George Bridge, Braydon Ennor tries; Richie Mo'unga 5 cons, pen)
Half-time: 21-31

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