The Ranfurly Shield is returning to Taranaki.
Taranaki’s beaten Canterbury 23-22 in an absorbing Shield match in Christchurch, with All Blacks fullback Jordie Barrett kicking the match-winning penalty goal from 50 metres out in the 74th minute.
Chiefs flanker Lachlan Boshier then forced a turnover in the closing moments when Canterbury was inside the Taranaki 22 to secure the Log o’ Wood for the Amber and Blacks.
They had led 20-3 at halftime, but the holders scored three unanswered tries in the second-half to snatch the lead before Barrett’s monster kick.
Taranaki will start its seventh Ranfurly Shield reign against Otago in Inglewood next Sunday afternoon.
The visitors made a fast start to the first major Shield challenge of the year, with winger Jacob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens and new All Blacks lock Tupou Vaa’i both scoring tries for Taranaki in the first 10 minutes.
Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens scored his second in the 27th minute after Beauden Barrett broke from deep inside the Taranaki half. Jordie Barrett converted the try to give the Amber and Blacks a 20-3 lead.
Taranaki held the 17 point advantage at halftime after a couple of big defensive stands in the closing minutes of the half.
Canterbury came out of the sheds firing, with prop Ollie Jager scoring their first try in the 42nd minute after a sustained spell of pressure. Richie Mo’unga was unable to convert but they had cut the deficit to 20-8.
A quarter of an hour later Mo’unga converted his own try to reduce Taranaki’s advantage to five points.
Canterbury then led for the first time with nine minutes remaining when Andrew Knewstubb scored inside the right corner and Mo’unga converted to give the Red and Blacks a 22-20 advantage.
But it was shortlived as Barrett kicked a penalty from just inside the Canterbury half to reclaim the lead for Taranaki, which they ultimately held on to.
Waikato’s continued its impressive start to the Mitre 10 Cup.
The Mooloos have followed up their opening 53-28 win over Wellington with a bonus point 41-19 victory over North Harbour, also in Hamilton.
Harbour were never able to recover after falling 26-nil behind inside half an hour.
The visitors did score the last two tries of the first half to cut the deficit to 29-12 at halftime, but Waikato managed to keep North Harbour at bay in the second 40.
Waikato halfback Xavier Roe scored a first-half double, while Quinn Tupaea, Mitch Jacobson, Damian McKenzie and Valynce Te Whare also dotted down for the Mooloos.
Luteru Tolai, Jacob Pierce and Lewis Gjaltema scored North Harbour’s tries.