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Waikato beat Thames Valley to keep Shield

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 6/06/2016

Waikato have had little trouble repelling the first Ranfurly Shield challenge of the rugby season, downing neighbours Thames Valley 83-13 in Paeroa.

The contest between a Premiership team and their Heartland Championship opponents promised to be one-sided and so it proved as Waikato ran in 13 tries on Monday.

Former King Country Winger Iliesa Ratuva Tavuyara snared a hat-trick on debut for the Mooloos, while No.8 Whetu Douglas and prop Atu Moli both grabbed a brace.

Moli was part of a strong effort by Waikato's starting front row, and fellow prop Latu Talakai and hooker Hame Faiva were rewarded by also getting on the scoresheet.

Despite being starved of possession, Thames Valley showed plenty of heart and they managed two second-half tries, the first after Waikato had reached a half-century of points.

After the home side had pounded at the goal-line for several phases, No.8 Brett Ranga forced his way over.

The Swamp Foxes' second touch-down came when centre Jone Koroinsagana snared an intercept and raced 90 metres score.

That closed the gap to 57-13, but it was also the signal for a big finish by the visitors, who added four more five-pointers.

The match featured a return to Waikato colours for 36-year-old former Ireland half-back Isaac Boss, who first played for the province in 1999 before heading to Ulster in 2005.

Waikato have two more scheduled Shield defences before the national provincial championship begins in August, the next against King Country in Matamata on July 30.

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