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Rock-solid Canterbury steal Shield win

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 28/09/2016

Waikato outscored Canterbury three tries to two, but superb kicking from first Richie Mo'unga then Jordie Barrett gave the challengers a crucial edge. © Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images Waikato outscored Canterbury three tries to two, but superb kicking from first Richie Mo'unga then Jordie Barrett gave the challengers a crucial edge. Implaccable defence and rock-solid work at the set piece have set up Canterbury for a 29-23 Ranfurly Shield win over Waikato in Hamilton.

It's the first time in five years that the southerners have held the Shield, Wednesday's win ending a Waikato run which had lasted six successful defences.

Waikato outscored Canterbury three tries to two, but superb kicking from first Richie Mo'unga then Jordie Barrett gave the challengers a crucial edge.

Mo'unga opened the scoring after 10 minutes with the first of two early penalties, but it took barely two minutes for Waikato to hit back.

Fijian winger Iliesa Ratuva Tavuyara broke clear down the right, his offload finding blindside flanker Jordan Manihera who dived over in the corner.

However, Canterbury continued to build phases and pressure, and were rewarded in the 22nd minute when hooker Ben Funnell crashed over for a textbook set-piece try from an attacking scrum.

Waikato pivot Sam Christie's canny pop kick on the half-hour mark caught the Canterbury defence napping, setting up a storming run from fullback Jordan Trainor, who slipped the pass for skipper Whetu Douglas to touch down.

Canterbury responded just two minutes later, capitalising on a leisurely Waikato chase to take a quick throw-in which launched centre Jack Goodhue on a mazy run finished by winger Johnny McNicholl.

Trailing 20-12 at halftime, Waikato narrowed the gap early in the second half with two quick Trainor penalties, while Canterbury hit back with one of their own through Barrett.

Tavuyara levelled the scores with 15 minutes remaining after Waikato shifted the ball wide, only for Barrett to nail two penalties in the final 10 minutes to give Canterbury the victory.

The win is Canterbury's sixth from seven starts in the NPC's premiership, and extends their lead at the top of the table to five points clear of second-placed Taranaki.

North Harbour, beaten 26-15 by Waikato in their first Shield defence of the season, hold the first challenge against Canterbury on October 8.

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