North Harbour have pulled off one of the great provincial rugby comebacks to stun Waikato in Albany this afternoon.

Down 36-19 with just 12 minutes remaining, North Harbour produced three late tries, including a converted effort from Matt McGahan after the final hooter, to steal a remarkable 38-36 victory.

McGahan was the hero, stepping inside an attempted tackle and burrowing over to level the scores, before slotting the conversion from a tough angle near the left touchline to send his teammates into jubilant celebration.

The hosts had earlier started solidly, but Waikato snagged tries on either side of the halftime interval, and Fletcher Smith's personal 16-point haul built the visitors a 17-point buffer as time ticked away.


It looked certain to be enough, but rapid back-to-back tries to Luteru Tolai and James Little put Harbour back within striking distance with five minutes to go as they piled on the pressure.

Waikato tried valiantly to cling on, but after yet another period of possession, McGahan spotted a gap, scored, and then capped it all off with the winning conversion to make sure Waikato would be heading back down the highway in a sour mood.

North Harbour jump into fourth on the Premiership ladder with the victory, ahead of Waikato but behind Auckland on points differential in what is a logjammed ladder behind runaway leaders Tasman.

Wellington move into second place, after holding on to beat Bay of Plenty 16-15 in Rotorua.

A sole Peter Umaga-Jensen try and 11 points from the boot of Jackson Garden-Bachop was enough for the win, with Bay of Plenty missing their opportunity to return to the top of the Championship ladder.

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North Harbour v Waikato as it happened: