Taranaki's coach may have said earlier this season that tackling Northland at Toll Stadium was their toughest match so far at the time, but there's no doubting their ITM Cup Premiership final win was harder.
In front of 21,000 fervent fans on a wonderful night for provincial rugby, Taranaki applied the fitting finale to their fairytale campaign.
Taranaki's 36-32 victory over Tasman at Yarrow Stadium on Saturday was an appropriate way to cap the greatest season in the history of Taranaki rugby.
It's been 24 years since Manawatu were the last team outside of the five main centres to win the national provincial championship title; it's been even longer since Taranaki had a taste of the business end of the competition.
But after beating Auckland to reach their first top-tier final, Taranaki showed just why they were the strongest side in the ITM Cup.
During the regular season, Taranaki beat the Taniwha 30-21 in front of a large Northland crowd in what was an entertaining match up.