The Bay prepares for first Ranfurly Shield challenge of 2015

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Wednesday, July 8, 2015    James Mortimer    Getty Images

In late August last year in a high quality encounter the Magpies claimed the Log o’Wood with a 27-21 victory over Counties Manukau in Pukekohe.

With the lead changing hands on numerous occasions, the visitors and eventual Shield winners had to survive a furious onslaught from the Steelers in the dying stages, first repelling a 24 phase attack before hanging on for grim life after being penalised for minor infringements.

In the end, despite the clock being nearly three minutes past time, Tim Nanai-Williams would in one last throw of the dice lose the ball forward to bring Counties Shield reign to a close, while starting a new chapter for the Magpies.

They survived four challenges to end the last campaign's ITM Cup season, closing out with a 20-20 draw against Northland.

The Stags joined Otago, Bay of Plenty and Wellington as unsuccessful challengers.

The Magpies will face three Heartland Union challenges for the Ranfurly Shield in 2015 after having received six challenges overall. 

Wairarapa Bush, Horowhenua Kapiti and 2014 Meads Cup winners, Mid Canterbury have all had their challenges confirmed.

Mid Canterbury, as winners of the Meads Cup (under NZ Rugby Regulations for the Ranfurly Shield) required Hawke’s Bay to automatically accept their challenge match.

“The Shield matches have been scheduled for the month of July and we know that each of the Heartland opposition will be difficult opponents who will be highly motivated by the opportunity to play for the Log of Wood’’ HBRU CEO, Mike Bishop said.

Hawke’s Bay vs Wairarapa Bush, Thursday 9 July
2.35pm Kick Off
McLean Park, Napier
Referee: Jamie Nutbrown

Hawke’s Bay vs Horowhenua Kapiti, Thursday 16 July
7.35pm Kick Off
McLean Park, Napier
Referee: Paul Williams

Hawke’s Bay vs Mid Canterbury, Thursday 23 July
7.35pm Kick Off
McLean Park, Napier
Referee: Brendon Pickerill

All games will be broadcast live on sky.