Taranaki stole this one right at the death after the Makos had failed to shut the game down, blowing a late lead.

Waisake Naholo shot through for an astonishing try, and Marty McKenzie landed the winning conversion.

Taranaki was intent on kicking much of its ball away in the first half, but played much better rugby after the break. The Makos had almost done enough, however, and then relied on some questionable decisions by the match officials to take a nine-point lead.

Tasman had much the better of the first half field position, but could not make that advantage count until late. Maybe they were missing the galvanising influence of their skipper Shane Christie. Maybe it was because Taranaki had the wind and were able to bang over two penalty goals. But all of a sudden second five Tom Marshall did a body shift which helped put his blindside flanker Pete Samu over near the corner. It was indicative of how Tasman have constructed many of their tries this year, support play and skills aplenty. This in turn created holes in the Taranaki defence, which they slowly began to exploit. Stand-in captain Joe Wheeler cashed in off the back of a superb team try to have the Makos 11 to the good at the break.

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Taranaki needed to involve their big ball-winners and ball carriers such as James Broadhurst and Blade Thomson. The latter answered the call, plunging over in the corner after Taranaki came out firing from what should have been a halftime rocket. Halfback Jamison Gibson-Park started to snip around the fringes. A one-three cut move from a scrum saw a powerful charge by centre Seta Tamanivalu to score near the uprights.

The Makos rallied, thanks to some hairy officiating, to say the least. Jimmy Cowan dived over but appeared to lose the ball. Not according to the TMO, who ruled a try. That was after what was a foul play intervention by the assistant referee was strangely downgraded.

Tasman have six days to recover before travelling to Invercargill, while Taranaki are in Whangarei next Thursday.

Taranaki (Blade Thomson, Seta Tamanivalu, Waisake Naholo tries; Marty McKenzie 2 con, 4 pen)
Tasman (Peter Samu, Joe Wheeler, Jimmy Cowan tries; Marty Banks 3 con, 3 pen)
Halftime: 17-6 Tasman

Game moments

Marshall v Marshall
Tom Marshall of Tasman was marking his brother James Marshall of Taranaki in the No 12 jerseys. Tom got the better of his older sibling... just.

Shock stat
Tasman made just 13 tackles in the first half, while Taranaki made 67 and missed eight. That almost told in the final analysis.