There was still 24 minutes of play remaining when Taradale No 8 Iakopo Mapu scored his try but the elation on his face said a lot.
It was always going to be tough for defending champions WIT Napier Old Boys Marist to recover from a 23-12 deficit in the fifth round Tui Nash Cup clash between two unbeaten teams. That was definitely the case as Taradale went on to win Saturday's feature Hawke's Bay premier club game at Tareha Recreation Reserve 26-19. There was also some relief for Mapu after he bombed a try in the first half.
"I thought I scored in the first half but the referee [Carl Jowsey] thought otherwise. I made up for it with the second one," Mapu said afterwards.
The 21-year-old is in his first season of rugby in New Zealand and is a graduate of the Samoa Rugby Academy run by former Samoa, Magpies and Mighty Maroons hooker Mo Schwalger. He is in the Magpies wider training group and with six tries from five games to date Mapu is doing plenty to put his hand up for Mitre 10 Cup selection within the next two or three seasons.
Taradale captain and lock Andrew Gardner was just as delighted as Mapu afterwards.
"We were up for this one especially after that 49-13 loss to NOBM in last year's Maddison Trophy semifinals. Having the right attitude from the start was the key," Gardner said.
"It is still only early in the season but to beat a team as good as that one will definitely give us confidence going forward," he added.
While all of the Taradale players deserve praise for their input 2017 New Zealand Secondary Schools halfback Humphrey Sheild and second five-eighth Nathan Ramsay were key architects in the backline. Mapu and Gardner were inspirational in a cohesive host pack.
Captain and No 8 Matt Gardner, flanker Ricky Hayes and prop Patrick Teddy had high work rates in the visiting pack. Centre Saia Paese was again slick in the Green Machine's backline.
Central 32 Havelock North 31
Northfuels Central scored their first win over Progressive Meats Havelock North at Anderson Park with this nailbiter.
The last time Central had beaten Havelock North in Waipukurau was 14 years ago so it was no wonder the noise levels in their dressing room on Saturday night were higher than those usually reserved for Maddison Trophy winning teams. Central's busy No 8 Tomo Fogarty, who scored two tries, was the player of the match.
Centre Travis Janssen had another strong game for the Central side which has scored three consecutive wins for the first time in at least 10 seasons. Raven Smith, who was a substitute winger, deserves kudos for scoring a try with his first touch of the ball after travelling from Napier where he had played 80 minutes for the Central colts.
"It was one of those classic games of two halves and full credit to Central for coming back from their 26-8 halftime deficit," Havelock North manager Gary Revell said as he reflected on his troops first loss of the season.
Openside flanker Jacob Stephenson and locks Devan Flanders and Patrick Allen were workaholics in the villagers pack.
Pirate 53 MAC 13
Tanalised Napier Pirate Rugby and Sports manager Charles Reid was impressed with his team's emphatic victory at Flaxmere Park.
"I expected more from MAC. They were missing a couple of key players but our set piece was dominant and because MAC conceded so many penalties we were always on the front foot," Reid said.
Matt Murtha was an influential figure as a substitute first five-eighth for the visitors. Co-captain and centre Hayden Hann and halfback Kingi Te Amo were also prominent in the Pirate backlline while tighthead prop Sean Morrison was powerful in the winning pack.
MAC coach Anthony Morley admitted his troops were blown off the park but loosehead prop Amiga Mikaele and hooker Frank Tupuola and flanker-hooker Damarus Hokianga shone with their never-say-die approach.
While MAC have lost their last four matches Morley said six players made their premier debuts during the last three games.
Clive 23 Tech 19
After defaulting midweek Maddison Trophy holders Tremains Andrew Clark Clive were back on track with this Farndon Park victory, claimed coach Vaine Maui.
"Tech made us work for our five points and that's fantastic for the competition," Maui said.
Centre Duff Penitito was at his blockbusting best in the Clive backline. Flankers Donovan Mataira and Liam Udy-Johns and lock Joseph Fuimaono were tirless workers in the Clive pack.
"We ran out of steam in the last 10 to 15 minutes and that was a result of playing on Wednesday night," Altherm Window Systems Napier Technical manager Cyril Whitburn said.
Lock Elijah Martin and prop Perrin Manuel provided plenty of grunt to the Texans pack and second five-eighth Ted Walters was again the best of the Tech backs.
Hastings 33 Tamatea 8
First five-eighth Shamara Brooks was the key conductor of this Auto Super Shoppe Hastings Rugby and Sports victory at Elwood Park.
His display included three line breaks in the first half. Flanker Jardine Chung Ching gave anther strong performance in his 50th appearance for the side.
Fellow flanker Joe Taafi, prop Jason Long and No 8 Danya Tulou were all prominent in a Hastings scrum which dominated the second half.
Tamatea coach Levi Armstrong was proud of his team's first half display as they trailed 12-8 at halftime. He only had a squad of 17 players as "Storm Week" had contributed to a high injury tally.
Hooker Ngaiwi Hepi and flanker Pete Faalogo were busy in the visiting pack and 16-year-old halfback Art Thompson was the best of the Tamatea backs.