North Harbour 27 Tasman 27
Aided and abetted by an absurd yellow card decision against Tasman, North Harbour maintained their unbeaten home streak last night and are still on the cusp of qualifying for the Mitre 10 Cup Championship rugby playoffs for the first time in a decade.
It was a case of high balls and a happy hour for the home side, who launched an aerial assault, though often with a ragged kick-chase line, and brought physicality through the middle. But they had to settle for a draw, just the second of the season, after a late try to Makos No 8 Shannon Frizell and some dramatic final moments, including Marty Banks hitting the woodwork from 50m with an 80th minute kick.
Tasman centre Kieron Fonotia was sinbinned, bizarrely, for a second half retaliatory action that amounted to little more than a push. Harbour were swift to pounce, Matt Vaega crossing in the corner after getting on the outside of Mitch Hunt. Tasman No 6 Ethan Blackadder was also binned in a separate incident.
Hooker Adrian Smith scored a rare try which allowed Harbour to reclaim the late lead.
Kane Hames made a telling scrum impact off the Makos' bench, as did fellow prop Siua Halanukonuka.
North Harbour were able to exert pressure on the Makos in the first spell with some pressing defence, but they still missed more tackles than they would have liked and the Makos had more ball. They muscled up with some bruising defence in the second half but Harbour retained possession well.
Earlier, Makos second five David Havili scored the first try after a powerful burst by wing James Lowe and a silky touch by hooker Andrew Makalio, who later scored from a clinical lineout drive.
Harbour's riposte was swift, fullback Matt McGahan the finisher and wing Tevita Li the creator with a devastating break on the counter.
The trusty boots of Bryn Gatland and Banks did the rest, both racking up 12 points each.
North Harbour 27 (Matt McGahan, Matt Vaega, Adrian Smith tries; Bryn Gatland 3 con, 2 pen).
Tasman 27 (David Havili, Andrew Makalio, Shannon Frizell tries; Marty Banks 3 con, 2 pen). HT: 13-13.