Jona Nareki is one tough rugby player.

The Otago winger played in the final two minutes of his side's Ranfurly Shield victory over Waikato on Saturday with a 'smashed testicle' his coach Ben Herring revealed.

Herring told Newshub that Nareki rejoined the game in the closing stages after leaving the field with the injury midway through the second half.

"He came off, but when there were injuries in the game, he had to come back on with his smashed testicle, which was operated on this morning," Otago coach Ben Herring told Newshub yesterday following the 23-19 win.

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"If you know Jona, he's a particularly buoyant fella, but the comment was, 'don't worry mate, it's just a small operation'," Herring added.

Otago battled their way to the four-point win to lock away the Ranfurly Shield in Dunedin for the first time since 2013.

It was Shield rugby at its finest: two provincial powerhouses battling to end strong seasons with a bang on a sunny Saturday afternoon in Hamilton.

The visitors laid down the challenge early – jumping on every loose ball, celebrating every turnover – and rushed out to a quick 17-0 lead through three tries in the first 20 minutes.

Waikato – one of the most entertaining sides this season – reacted instead with a more pragmatic brand of footy, camping in Otago's 22 for the rest of first half.

The sustained period of pressure payed off for Waikato right as the first half buzzer sounded, with winger Tyler Campbell crossing over in the corner through a perfectly constructed set piece for their second try.

It was more of the same for Waikato in the second half, with prop Toby Smith eventually making it a one-point game – after Fletcher Smith's conversion – with a 50th minute try.

But Otago would later earn a couple of penalties in quick succession at the other end, ultimately proving to be the difference in the game.

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After opting against going for goal moments earlier, on a second Waikato penalty in the kicking zone, Otago's No 10 Josh Ioane – who strikes the ball as purely as anyone in the country – decided to take the points and slotted over a crucial three-pointer to put Otago ahead 23-19.

And that score would remain, after a mammoth second half defensive effort from the Blue and Gold, fending off a dogged Waikato to hang on for a famous victory.

"It is I guess the old cliché, we had to come in and attack and we did," said Otago skipper Michael Collins after the game. "And then we closed it off at the end to sneak away with a win so yeah I'm so proud."