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Ranfurly Shield heading North

Published: 6:35PM Sunday September 24, 2006 Source: ONE Sport

North Harbour claimed the Ranfurly Shield for the first time when they toppled Canterbury 21-17 at Jade Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

It was Harbour's 11th tilt at the Shield, and there was no hiding their jubilation when the final hooter sounded with the win providing undoubtedly the union's greatest moment in their short history.

And it wasn't just the log of wood Harbour took from the encounter, with the win boosting them in to a share of second place of the top six.

With both sides keen on playing running rugby, it was North Harbour's desperate second half defence that got them home on Sunday as Canterbury dominated the possession and territory stakes.

North Harbour got away to the best possible start with Vili Waqaseduadua scoring under the posts in the opening minute after the flying Fijian exploited some casual passing in the Canterbury backline to intercept the ball and race away untouched to the line.

Luke McAlister's successful conversion gave the visitors an early 7-0 lead.

Despite being gifted a couple of prime try-scoring opportunities after some silly errors from North Harbour, the home side were unable to get on the board until the 23rd minute, with Cameron McIntyre knocking over a penalty from 25m out.

Canterbury continued to string some solid phases of play together and they were finally rewarded for their persistence with a try to Scott Hamilton in the 31st minute.

McIntyre's conversion gave the home side a 10-7 lead, but it was shortlived, with North Harbour scoring another intercept try four minutes later.

This time it was captain Rua Tipoki taking the spoils, scoring under the posts after a 70m dash to the line.

The home side had the final say of the opening spell though, with McIntyre displaying a deft step to dot down in the corner.

The try off the back of a 5m scrum after Canterbury were earlier held up over the line.

McIntyre converted right on the stoke of halftime to ensure his side headed back in to the sheds with a 17-14 lead.

Though the score was tight, both sides were happy to throw the ball around in the second half and play an expansive style of game.

But with neither side displaying any patience on attack, the game soon deteriorated in to a comedy of handling errors and general sloppy play.

It wasn't until the 68th minute that North Harbour were able to add to their score, with Waqaseduadua grabbing his second try of the afternoon to put the visitors back in front.

McAlister's conversion gave Harbour a 21-17 lead, which the clung to in spite of Canterbury's persistent attack over the final 10 minutes.