Taranaki 29 Tasman 41

Two years since falling against Taranaki in the biggest game in their history, Tasman found revenge to set up a second chance for provincial glory.

The Makos today booked their ticket for the Mitre 10 Cup Premiership showpiece, proving too dangerous for Taranaki to contain in a wild semifinal at Yarrow Stadium.

The last time Tasman had silverware in their sights, the amber-and-blacks snuffed out their hopes. There was no stopping the Makos this time around but, now, standing in their way is an even sterner challenge.

Canterbury, winners of seven of their last eight provincial titles, will be warm favourites in Saturday night's final in Christchurch, especially considering they thrashed their Super Rugby partners 45-14 in August.


But Tasman have made a habit out of defying the odds since their inception in 2006 and will head south boasting one of the best attacks in the competition as they attempt to upset big brother.

That attack was at times unstoppable in New Plymouth, particularly during a two-try blitz right before the break that would eventually prove the difference. Taranaki had started the stronger side and were clinging to a 12-10 heading into halftime when, in the span of two minutes, long-range tries from Alex Nankivell and Mitch Hunt turned the match on its head.

Taranaki were perhaps guilty of falling off too many tackles but the speed at which Tasman were launching raids would have been tough for any team to negate. And once Billy Guyton crossed for his side's fourth try early in the second spell, the Makos had scored 21 unanswered points and had placed one fin in the final.

But Taranaki refused to quit. First Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi and then Declan O'Donnell gave the home side some hope of completing a stunning comeback, a prospect that became worryingly real for Tasman when Taranaki captain Mitchell Crosswell crossed after a superb break from Stephen Perofeta.

That set up a nervy final 10 minutes for the visitors and, particularly, Marty Banks, who had missed a couple of second-half penalties that could have clinched the result. It was fitting, then, for a man regarded by some as the greatest ever Mako to land the killer blow, diving over with the last play of the game to spark jubilant celebrations.

Taranaki 29 (S. Tamanivalu, J. Faauli, T. Tahuriorangi, D. O'Donnell, M. Croswell tries; M. McKenzie 2 cons)
Tasman 41 (R. Geldenhuys, A. Nankivell, M. Hunt, B. Guyton, M. Banks tries; M. Banks 2 pens, 5 cons)
Halftime: 12-24