Waikato 19 Manawatu 10

Waikato's reign on the Ranfurly Shield continues, with Manawatu failing to capitalise on their best chance in years to end a 38 year drought.

A messy 19-10 victory made it five successful defences for Waikato, and the four competition points could prove just as vital for the team tipped for relegation by bookmakers at the start of the season.

Conversely, there was heartbreak for Manawatu, who after years of hefty Shield defeats had their best opportunity to hoist the Log of Wood since the turn of the century.

Manawatu had one moment of magic, but multiple mishaps as their visit to Hamilton drowned in a flood of handling errors.


Despite the persistent rain lashing Waikato Stadium, Manawatu's prospects looked bright early on as they pounced with a frantic counter-attacking try.

Winger Newton Turdeu set it up, superbly claiming an attacking Damian McKenzie cross-kick before racing 60 metres. As the cover defence came across, he pulled out a crossfield chip of his own into the path of fellow flyer Ambrose Curtis, who toed the ball ahead twice before dotting down.

Unfortunately for the Turbos, that try would be an outlier as traditional avenues of attacking were culled by the conditions.

In a competition where the average game produces 58 points, the clash was a throwback to the olden days, with rucks and discipline increasing in importance compared to the distilled role of the backline.

Manawatu coughed up 23 turnovers, while the two sides combined for 22 handling errors as the weather demanded a compact, conservative gameplan.

Despite dominating the bulk of the attacking stats, Manawatu couldn't open up a sizeable lead, with Waikato staying in touch at halftime with boot of McKenzie, whose kicking services were heavily required throughout the encounter.

McKenzie missed three penalties of varying difficulty, but poor discipline from Manawatu gave him multiple opportunities to extend a Waikato lead.

That lead had earlier been grafted through fine work by Tawera Kerr-Barlow, who made a significant impact off the bench, helping to set up a try to Willis Halaholo.

Manawatu argued it had been aided by obstruction, but their protest was ineffective, and further infringements saw their deficit increase.

They threw one last salvo at Waikato's line, but the hosts' impressive defence held firm to lock up the Shield.

The goal-line stand led to Manawatu skipper Callum Gibbons giving referee Paul Williams an earful, but he was more diplomatic post-match.

"We struggled at ruck time, [Waikato were] very dominant there, messing the ball up for our halfback.

"We didn't hold onto the ball well enough and gave away a few silly penalties," said Gibbons.

Waikato's slate gets tougher in the coming weeks, with a trip to Auckland followed by a Shield defence against Taranaki, while a home match against Canterbury also looms.

For now though, they will celebrate the spoils of another Shield success.

Waikato 19 (Willis Halaholo try; Damian McKenzie con, 4 pens)
Manawatu 10 (Ambrose Curtis try; Otere Black con, pen)
Halftime: 9-10