Ranfurly Shield challenge adds excitement for Otago

More than a few Otago rugby fans would have been cheering loudly on Saturday night.

This weekend, they will hope to be cheering even louder.

A Ranfurly Shield challenge looms on Sunday — Otago is set to play Taranaki for the Log o’ Wood in Inglewood.

That comes as a result of Taranaki’s 23-22 win over a star-studded Canterbury side in Christchurch on Saturday night.

Jordie Barrett landed a monster 49m penalty with six minutes left to stun the host side, which had hauled in a 20-3 halftime deficit.

Whether Barrett, or his brother Beauden, will be available this weekend remains unclear.

It would seem unlikely, though, as the All Blacks head into camp today.

That bolsters Otago’s chances of claiming the Ranfurly Shield for the third time this decade.

Certainly, the pressure to win is not what it once was.

The win over Waikato in 2013 — which snapped a 56-year drought — was key to that.

However, the side showed it was no fluke five years later, again beating Waikato in 2018 and putting together six defences last year.

One of those defences came against — you guessed it — Taranaki.

That means little this weekend, although a 36-25 win over Manawatu in Palmerston North yesterday means Otago takes good form into the game.

Otago coach Tom Donnelly said it would be a big week.

"It’s an exciting trophy to play for.

"I think it really encapsulates what NZ domestic rugby’s about — getting to play for the Ranfurly Shield.

"So it’s an exciting week ahead for us."


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