While Barrett’s late heroics sealed the win, it was Lachlan Boshier who was the difference-maker. Christopher Rieve, NZ Herald, 19 September 2020

Taranaki wrest the Ranfurly Shield from Canterbury

By Roger Childs

Affectionately known as the “Log o’ Wood” the shield has traditionally been the measure of provincial rugby supremacy. Governor General Lord Ranfurly presented the shield to the Auckland province who had the best match record in the 1902 season. From then on any province could win the trophy if they beat the holders on their home ground. There have been some epic battles over the last 118 years, and the last time Taranaki and Canterbury met, in October 2017, the yellow and blacks came from 7-31 down to win in the biggest total score ever, 55-43. 

On Saturday the two teams met again in what was a classic “game of two halves”. Taranaki scored three tries in the first half to lead 20-3 at half time and Canterbury scored three tries in the second half ahead to go ahead 22-20 with 10 minutes to go. Then Jordie Barrett kicked a long penalty from near half way in the 73rd minute to give the visitors the win by 23-22. 

First half – all Taranaki

The yellow and blacks score three excellent tries – two of which resulting from Barrett brothers magic.  After an early score in the corner by Jacob Kneepkins, Jordie Barrettt gathered a loose ball spilt by Richie Mo’unga 40 metres out and ran hard before timing a perfect pass for Tupou Vaa’i to score the second try. Then late in the half Beauden Barrett made a searing break beating four Canterbury players and another copybook pass gave Kneepkins his second try. 

Canterbury had 60% of the possession and had their chances. On the right wing Mansa Mataele made a break on the right wing and seem certain to score, but fumbled the ball. Then after a series of scrums close to the line where the heavier home team scrum milked a succession of penalties pushing back the Taranaki pack, they tried one too many. Prop Joe Moodie was pulled down and the visitors received a relieving penalty. 

Second half – all Canterbury to the 73rd minute

The home team played with plenty of fire early in the second half and were rewarded with an early try to prop Oli Jager. The second try went to Mo’unga who strode through a yawning gap in an otherwise tight Taranaki defence and the third try in the 70th minute resulted from a superb long pass from half-back Mitchell Drummond to replacement right winger Andrew Knewstubb. Mo’unga’s successful conversion gave Canterbury the lead for the first time. It look as if the shield would remain in Christchurch, but then Jordie Barrett stepped up for the match-winning penalty. 

As the score indicates it was a close game and both sides tackled strongly and had an even battle in the forwards. Taranaki were quicker to the loose ball in the first half and the reverse was the case in the second. However the difference was probably “ man of the match” Taranaki’s loose forward Lachlan Boshier who won many turnovers and crucially one with two minutes to go which gave the under pressure Taranaki team a much needed penalty. 

So the log o’ wood heads north, and from now on teams playing Taranaki at home have their chance to win the shield.