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Draw keeps Shield in Waikato

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 18/09/2016

© Fiona Goodall/Getty Images An injury-hit Waikato have kept the Ranfurly Shield with a gutsy 20-all draw against Taranaki.

The Mooloos were able to even the scores late in the second half and screw down a tiring Taranaki side in an at-times error-ridden premiership derby clash in Hamilton on Sunday.

Waikato were hit by a number of injuries, and had named two new props for the match. They then lost tighthead Sefo Kautai to injury after 22 minutes.

Taranaki had high hopes and led 8-5 at half time after both sides were guilty of early fumbles in attack.

The visitors opened the try-scoring in the 28th minute when left winger Manasa Mataele found a gaping hole in the Waikato line on halfway and fed second five-eighth Johnny Fa'auli to go over in the left-hand corner.

However, Waikato struck back either side of half time left winger Sevu Reece scored twice with slippery runs.

Taranaki grabbed back the lead with two tries to number eight Toa Halafihi, one through weak Waikato defence around the ruck and the other via a pushover scrum for a 20-12 lead.

Waikato fullback Tyler Campbell closed the gap in the 65th minute, scoring his first NPC try in the middle of a ruck, before Taranaki conceded a front-of-posts penalty for first five-eighth Sam Christie to kick the equaliser.

Waikato were then able to camp in Taranaki's territory to run the clock down and earn the draw for their sixth shield defence of the season.

Waikato's next shield defence will be against Canterbury, who top the premiership table, on September 28.

Taranaki sit second on the table and Waikato fourth.

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