Waikato take Ranfurly Shield from Naki

GLENN MCLEAN
Last updated 21:17 03/10/2012

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Waikato produced one of the most stunning form reversals in recent times to thump Taranaki 46-10 and take the Ranfurly Shield north.

In danger of being relegated from the NPC premiership before the match, Waikato produced a stunning display to run in six tries to one.

From the front row to fullback they had the measure of Taranaki who struggled to get over the advantage line until they 39-3 down.

Even then they had no answer to the punishing Waikato defence.

While most were expecting a tight stuggle as Taranaki looked to lock away the Shield for another summer, Waikato had other ideas.

They talked before the match about attacking from the outset and they did.

Their perfect start to the match came after just three minutes when hooker Marcel Cummings-Toone barged over following some good lead-up work from their forwards.

It was a sign of things to come.

While Taranaki responded with a Frazier Climo penalty, Waikato struck back after they found a hole when Jayden Hayward rushed up.

It was all Waikato needed as they used some good inter-passing to eventually send fullback Trent Renata over to score to make it 12-3 after just 11 minutes.

The challengers made it 19-3 just eight minutes later when Sam Christie finished off some excellent tight work by the Waikato forwards.

Renata then gave his side another huge confidence boost, if they needed any more, with a 55m penalty to extend Waikato's lead to 22-3.

Waikato skipper Alex Bradley then gave away a certain three points as he came desperately close to giving his side a bonus point try inside of the first half hour.

They didn't have to worry, that came five minutes before the break after Bradley crashed over after a 20 metre driving maul.

It was all too much for Taranaki who were struggling to see halfway from deep inside their territory.

In fact, Taranaki never got inside the Waikato 22 in the first half.

The challengers deserved their 27-3 lead at the break and could rightfully feel aggrieved it was not more given their dominance.

It so could have been more had referee Bryce Lawrence not called back a try to Save Tokula.

If there were any concerns that might come back to haunt them they were extinguished just four minutes into the second half when Tim Mikkelson scored.

He made it a double a few minutes later as many Taranaki fans made their way to the nearest gate.

A consolation try to halfback Jamison Gibson-Park did little to ease the pain of the remaining home supporters.

Waikato 46 (Tim Mikkelson 3, Marcel Cummings-Toone, Trent Renata, Sam Christie, Alex Bradley tries; Renata pen, 4 cons,) Taranaki 10 (Jamison Gibson-Park try; Frazier Climo pen, con). HT: 27-3.

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