Waikato defend the Ranfurly Shield with ease
Waikato scored 13 unanswered tries to successfully defend the Ranfurly Shield against Horowhenua-Kapiti 85-0 in Morrinsville.
It was a tough day at the office for the challenging Heartland Championship team from Levin, but they never gave up trying and pushed hard for a try late in the match.
Waikato maintained point-a-minute pace in the first spell with six tries, five of them converted by Trent Renata.
The first try was scored in just the second minute of the game to debutant blindside flanker Whetu Douglas.
Hometown hero and Chiefs halfback Brendon Leonard, playing his farewell match for Waikato before heading to Italy at the end of the Super Rugby season, scored the second try just past the three-minute mark and then elusive New Zealand under-20 winger Joe Webber notched up a hat-trick in the space of quarter of an hour before new centre Dylan Collier got the final try of the half.
It was more of the same after the break with Chiefs lock Romana Graham strolling over untouched near the posts, running one off a ruck after Leonard had got close to the line with a quick dab.
Collier's second try from a neat break and fend by first-five Wharenui Hawera took Waikato out to 52-0 and their highest score against Horowhenua-Kapiti, exceeding the 51-7 win in 1977.
But it didn't stop there as the score kept mounting, this time with a pick-and-go try to debutant lock Brian Alainu'uese, but the visitors kept trying and had their supporters on their feet with a break down the right touchline before Waikato started ringing the changes.
It made no difference with the Shield holders breaking out and Webber unselfishly putting replacement back Glen Robertson over for his first try, quickly followed by another replacement in NZ under-20 hooker Hame Faiva and Robertson's second.
The challengers had a good period of possession in the final 10 minutes but could not turn it into points and after a particularly strong attack on the Waikato line the defenders broke out for Webber to pick up his fourth try to take the final score to 85-0.
Waikato 85 (Joe Webber 4, Dylan Collier 2, Glen Robertson 2, Brendon Leonard, Whetu Douglas, Romana Graham, Brian Alainu'uese, Hame Faiva tries; Trent Renata 8, Wharenui Hawera, Collier conversions) Horowhenua-Kapiti 0. Halftime 40-0 Waikato.