Hawkes Bay claimed the highly sought-after Ranfurly Shield for the first time in 44 years when they beat Otago 20-19 in a great game in Dunedin last weekend. They scored two electric tries, the first of which came about through a superb offload.
Otago claimed the Shield by beating Waikato in Hamilton just nine days earlier, but their defence didn’t last long. They had last held it in 1957, so the pain of losing it in front of a 20 000 strong crowd in Dunedin will last for some time to come.
They did have a good chance of snatching the win, but flyhalf Hayden Parker’s dropgoal attempt was charged down in a dramatic end to the match.
It’s now all about the Magpies, who themselves hadn’t won it since 1969. Their first defence takes place this coming Saturday at McLean Park, where they face Counties Manukau.
Ihaia West scored a brilliant individual effort to push the score out to 20-9, while earlier Telusa Veainu scored after a well executed flick by Richard Buckman. He ran around Tom Donnelly then offloaded to flyer Gillies Kaka, who did the rest to set up Veainu.
“It’s an amazing feeling, it hasn’t quite sunk in yet,” said 21-year-old West. “You couldn’t hear anything with the crowd. The boys just managed to pull through and I’m stoked we could do it.
Hawkes Bay Airport was packed with fans to greet the triumphant side, and the streets of Napier were lined with thousands to welcome them home with the coveted Log O’ Wood.
Hawkes Bay actually held the Shield for 21 defences in the 1960’s, so we can expect Saturday at McLean Park to be a massive occasion as Counties do all they can to topple the new holders.
Below is the first try with Buckman’s wonder flick, and you can view the West effort on page two
Former Baby Black star Ihaia West’s outstanding effort against Otago