15 Aug 2010

Stags go alone at top and hold onto the old log

7:07 am on 15 August 2010

Southland have survived a spirited challenge from Counties-Manukau 13-9 to retain the Ranfurly Shield and tighten their grip on the top of the national provincial rugby championship.

Counties threw everything at the Shield holders for the full 80 minutes, bashing the Southland line until the final whistle.

But Southland have learnt how to grind out a tough win and a massive defensive effort means the Ranfurly Shield will stay in Invercargill for at least another few weeks.

Southland stalwart Jason Rutledge scored the only try of the game as the Stags went alone at the top of the ITM Cup, maintaining their unbeaten record.

It was 7-3 at half-time.

Robbie Robinson converted the try, scored a penalty and dropped a goal while Counties kicker Baden Kerr scored all their points with three penalties.

In the night's other game the young Wellington winger Julian Savea scored twice as the visitors beat Otago 35-22 at Carisbrook.

Wellington led 17-12 at half-time.