Taranaki rout Turbos in Shield challenge
Three tries to Taranaki fullback Kurt Baker ensured Manawatu's Ranfurly Shield challenge would come to nothing at Yarrow Stadium, New Plymouth today.
It only rubbed it in ever more for the outclassed challengers that Baker is a former Manawatu player who led the charge to the 59-18 win in bright sunshine.
It was an error-ridden Manawatu who were beaten all around the park and an efficient Taranaki who took extreme profit scoring eight tries to two.
This time they didn't even come close, well beaten at the breakdowns.
Taranaki enjoyed seeing so much good ball in their seventh Shield defence, and Manawatu still haven't had the Ranfurly Shield since 1978.
Baker scored two of his tries in the second spell to take his team to 30-13 and while Manawatu made a riposte with a try off a scrum to close it to 30-18 with 53 minutes gone, there was only one team in it.
By the middle of the second half Taranaki were scoring at will, charging off scrums, breaking tackles and when they spread the ball wide it seemed there were two amber and blacks to one Turbo.
Taranaki went on a six-try rampage in the second half and Manawatu looked to be sapped by the heat and the artillery fired at them.
Manawatu looked gone at halftime trailing 23-10 after having conceded two tries to one.
The Turbos had won plenty of ball but had made nothing like the headway Taranaki did, especially off their scrum.
Manawatu had made the early running but Taranaki held out and only made it worse when their two former players, Baker and Andre Taylor, both scored tries for the home team.
A jittery start by halfback Papa Wharewera proved costly, notably when he had a box kick attempt charged down.
Wing Taylor got the first and it was way too soft. Taranaki won a lineout after the chargedown, halfback Jamison Gibson-Park took off, second-five Jayden Hayward carried it on and Baker at speed brushed off the tackle of Manawatu fullback Lewis Marshall.
As a crescendo of abuse was directed at Taylor from the bucketheads, Baker only made it worse when he scored nine minutes later. Gibson-Park eluded two defenders and suddenly the Turbos trailed 17-3.
Manawatu though had some sting at that stage and scored a try out of nothing to wing Craig Clare two minutes later when Marshall put Taylor in at the corner.
Taranaki 59 (Kurt Baker 3, Frazier Climo 2, Jackson Ormond, Andre Taylor, Willie Rickards, tries; Frazier Climo 3 pen, 4 con; Taylor con) Manawatu 18 Craig Clare, Reece Robinson, tries, con, 2 pen) HT 23-10.