Hawke's Bay 29
Take a bow, Ihaia West.
The Hawke's Bay No 10 landed a last second pot to see his province home after a rugged second half in Napier. The Magpies bounced back from a mauling by the Tasman Makos to be the first ITM Championship team to scalp a Premiership outfit in 2014. It was the Magpies' first win over Taranaki since 2010.
It was an arm-wrestle of a second spell, with not enough direct running in the backlines at first. But West provided some spark, as did hooker Ash Dixon, who was busy and carried strongly. Andrew Horrell was prominent as the game wore on. West slipped through a grubber from which fullback Ryan Togia scored his second try, though it needed the TMO to confirm.
The standard of this crossover match-up was a cog down from the earlier all-action Waikato-Canterbury clash.
But Taranaki wing Seta Tamanivalu hauled the encounter out of the humdrum with the opening try off an inside pass by his No 10 Marty McKenzie.
Not to be outdone, the Magpies hit back through a Togia special, the fullback latching onto an Ash Dixon short ball and then showing his elusiveness to score between the sticks.
Taranaki are still seeking the key to unlocking their obvious attacking potential - they have just one try in two outings - but getting more good ball into the hands of bustling No 8 Blade Thomson and centre Charlie Ngatai would be a start. In their favour was a dominant scrum, with former Auckland tighthead prop Angus Ta'avao in rare form.
Hawke's Bay Canadian international Jason Marshall had a torrid time on the other side of the scrum too. Fullback Codey Rei started reeling off penalty goals, three in the space of 10 minutes.
But Hawke's Bay went to oranges leading by five thanks to two vital plays by West, whose crosskick set up Richard Buckman for a well-taken try and then he landed a fine long-range penalty goal.
Hawke's Bay will now gear up for what they hope is a Ranfurly Shield challenge next Saturday in Pukekohe, while Taranaki have a short turnaround before facing Waikato in Hamilton on Wednesday.