Seventy-two hours constitute a very long time in sport. Just ask the Waikato rugby team.
Three days after being on the receiving end of a 54-20 caning by Manawatu they turned their world upside down again by beating national provincial championship rivals Wellington 31-27 at Hamilton tonight.
The result keeps Waikato in the hunt for a finals berth while Wellington continue to flirt dangerously with relegation.
The turnaround in fortunes came on the back of a robust forward pack who worked overtime to unsettle Wellington's set piece work, as well as hugely impressive young first five-eighth Sam Christie, who kept the visitors guessing for the duration through his decisive and light footed running game.
The match turned midway through the second spell as a succession of Wellington indiscretions resulted in three penalties for Waikato fullback Trent Renata, who finished with 16 points, which lifted his side from 15-20 behind to 24-20 ahead.
A layer of icing was then applied when a Christie half break helped create space for wing Tim Mikkelson down the left flank and the New Zealand sevens representative did not waste the opportunity to score his team's third try.
Renata added the extras from a wide angle and Waikato looked comfortable at 31-20 with 15min remaining.
Ironically, it was the concession of three quick penalties by Waikato which enabled Wellington to secure a bonus point after the final hooter as the visitors rushed upfield before talented No 10 Lima Sopoaga broke clear then fed fullback Apoua Stewart.
Earlier, Wellington nudged in front 17-15 on the stroke of halftime thanks to a fine individualistic try to second five-eighth Michael Hobbs, who spotted a gap and pierced it with ease on a 40m run to the line.
Wellington had been the first to score in just the third minute when a nicely delayed pass from Hobbs gave centre Alapati Leiua an armchair ride to the line.
But the visitors paid a price for the sinbinning of flanker Scott Fugistaller in the 17th minute when referee Bryce Lawrence ruled he had transgressed with a professional foul when committing an early tackle just out from the line.
The tackle saved the try but Waikato benefited in Fugistaller's enforced absence despite conceding a tighthead to a seven-man Wellington pack.
While Wellington got the heel they could not control the ball and it was turned over before Waikato quickly ferried it to the right wing for Henry Speight to score in the corner.
Waikato then had their best period of the half as they recycled through many phases to tire the Wellingtonians and their reward was a second try for halfback Tawera Kerr-Barlow in the 34th minute.