East Coast 24
Poverty Bay 14
East Coast used their get out of jail card, not once but twice, to beat Poverty Bay 24-14 and secure a bonus point in their Heartland Championship rugby match at Gisborne today (Sat).
Trailing 14-12 with two minutes remaining, Coast left winger Mike King scored two tries to take his side to the top of the Championship, ahead of next week's Meads Cup playoffs.
The Coast play fourth-placed North Otago at Ruatoria on Saturday and if the Coast win they would host the final.
But with time almost up at Rugby Park, the Coast looked dead and buried against a Bay side who were behind 12-6 at halftime despite playing with a strong wind at their backs for the first 40 minutes.
Bay skipper Scott Leighton inspired a second-half comeback - closing the gap to three points with a penalty then levelling the game with another penalty.
Leighton was also involved in the move the led to second five Moss Doran scoring the try which gave the Bay a deserved lead.
"We were lucky to get the win today but we'll take it," said Coast player-coach Ngarimu Simpkins.
Although Coast winger TK Moeke did not score he was the man who set King up for the match-winning tries
Leighton said he was gutted but proud of the way his side performed and none more so than blindside flanker Sione Ngatu, who was outstanding after receiving a yellow card in the third minute.
East Coast 24 (King 2, Fisihoi, Samupo tries; Semple 2 cons)
Poverty Bay 14 (Doran try; Leighton 3 pens)