Taradale Rugby and Sports recovered from an 18-point deficit with 11 minutes remaining to enhance their favourite's tag for Hawke's Bay's Maddison Trophy premier club rugby title on Saturday.
Blindside flanker Francis Ah Him scored a last second try and first five-eighth Brad Truesdale slotted the conversion from his non-natural side to give the unbeaten Mighty Maroons a 37-36 ninth round victory against previously unbeaten Auto Super Shoppe Hastings Rugby and Sports at Elwood Park.
Hastings led 24-8 at halftime and 36-18 with 11 minutes left on the clock.
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"It was the ideal way to celebrate Ellery's 50th," Taradale manager Paul Wise said afterwards, referring to substitute hooker Ellery Tareha who was making his 50th appearance for the visitors.
"We're continuing to build and next week we will have a lot of our injured boys back," Wise added, referring to this weekend's semifinals which will see them host defending champions WIT Napier Old Boys Marist at Tareha Recreation Reserve and Hastings host K9 Petfoods Clive at Elwood Park.
Lock Angelo Mufana and captain and No 8 Andrew Gardner were again an inspirational pair in the Taradale pack.
Truesdale was creative and had the necessary levels of tactical nous.
Hastings had already secured a home semifinal before the match and manager James Rosenberg said lapses of discipline let the hosts down.
"We were on the wrong end of a 20-1 penalty count at one stage. But, at the same time, the calls had everyone shaking their heads. This loss will make us play better next week."
The sin binning of Hastings prop Paulo Nu'u proved costly in the second half.
With Highlanders No 8 Marino Mikaele-Tu'u unavailable, regular prop Josiah Tavita-Metcalfe was powerful in the No 8 role for the hosts.
Loosehead prop Jason Long and blindside flanker Jardine Chung Ching also impressed in the Hastings pack while centre Timu Vaiusu was again the pick of the backs.
With his try, winger Saifiti Saifiti took his tally to four for the day as he scored three playing for the Hastings seconds in the curtain-raiser.
Hastings were disappointed they were unable to give lock Jono Makris a winning 50th.
Clive 48 Tamatea 27
Clive secured the fourth semifinal spot with this Farndon Park victory.
"Our aim was to reach the semifinals and I'm happy we've got there," Clive head coach Vaine Maui said.
"Once you are in a semifinal it is anyone's game," he added.
Lock Rocky Pohatu was a workaholic in the riversiders engine room. Second five-eighth Sebastian Visibia and fullback JJ Taulagi both scored two tries in a backline which thrived on the distribution from first five-eighth Tianua Poto.
"We couldn't keep up with their imports. Without them we would have been in the hunt," Jarks Tamatea Pou Tikanga Don Hutana said, referring to Visibia and Taulagi.
Captain and tighthead prop Mason Kean, hooker Kianu Kereru-Symes and flanker Te Rira Rowlands were prominent in the Tamatea pack.
Havelock North 24 Central 15
Progressive Meats Havelock North ruined Northfuels Central's hopes of nabbing a semifinal berth with this Anderson Park win.
The villagers posted the maximum five competition points they needed to keep their faint semifinals hopes alive but were relying on Tamatea upsetting Clive to sneak in.
Central dominated the first half but the villagers ruled the final quarter.
Halfback Trent Hape was full of enterprise for the hosts and deserved his two tries.
Winger Mikey Vuicakau and second five-eighth Kalin Paewai were other threats in the winning backline.
Captain and lock Bronson Primmer, prop Paea Taulanga and substitute loosie Devan Flanders were key architects in the Havelock pack.
Central manager Ian Large had every right to be proud of his troops competitive effort and second half of the season.
Hooker Travis Taylor and flankers Jason Cutbush and Tomo Fogarty were valuable contributors to a pack which had no passengers. First five-eighth Braydon Hardwidge was the best of the Central backs.
Pirate 36 MAC 36
MAC recovered from a 16-point deficit at halftime to draw this entertaining Flaxmere Park encounter.
"Both teams were deserving of the points. It was a fun game but also competitive and the score was a good reflection of it," MAC coach Anthony Morley said, after his troops fought back from 31-15 down at halftime.
He heaped kudos on entire squad but said No 8 Solomone Funaki was the best player on the paddock - relentless on attack and defence.
Flanker Fa'alemiga Selesele also had a massive workrate in the host pack while first five-eighth Tom Iosefo and fullback Johnny Ika were dynamic and it was Ika who scored in the 79th minute to secure the draw.
Tanalised Napier Pirate Rugby and Sports manager Charles Reid said poor defence let the visitors down and MAC had more legs during the final quarter.
Flanker Damien Scott and lock Ormond Heather again exceeded expectations in the Pirate pack. First five-eighth Rana Hubbard shone in the visiting backline.
NOBM 69 Tech 29
Eleven players including seven regular starters were unavailable but this didn't stop the Green Machine from running in 11 tries in this Park Island clash.
Captain and openside flanker Chris Johnston again led the hosts by example and afterwards coach Craig Gowler described Johnston as the most inspirational footy player he had seen for a long time.
Gowler was impressed with how regular loosie Willie Benson operated at hooker. Centre Shae Tucker was constructive and destructive as required in the winning backline.
Prop Perrin Manuel impressed with his never-say-die approach in the Altherm Window Systems Napier Technical pack.
First five-eighth Dylan Ramsay and fullback Jordan Faia also made Texans manager Cyril Whitburn's MVP list.