2017 could become the greatest season in Tasman rugby history, but there's one more obstacle in their way.

A quality season has now turned into a potentially historic campaign for the Makos, who have reached the NPC final for the third time, where they will take on powerhouses Canterbury in a rematch of last year's final.

Led by 25 points from first-five Mitch Hunt, Tasman claimed an upset 30-29 victory over Taranaki to book their spot in the final, making the most of the ill-disciplined display by the competition's top qualifiers.

The clash was a repeat of the 2014 finale, coincidentally the only time anybody has taken the title away from Canterbury in the past decade. That year, it was Taranaki's name carved into the trophy, but now it's Tasman's turn to try and upset the history book, and record their first Premiership title.


They will be up against it. The Makos have lost their last four encounters against Canterbury, including a 39-0 drubbing to start the season, and a 43-27 defeat in last year's final.

But, making the final is a success on its own, and on the balance, they probably deserved to edge Taranaki in a game which lived up to its billing despite taking some time to spark into life.

To start, poor discipline from both teams led to penalties which bogged down any chance of consistent running rugby, but the after-effects would only hurt one side. Tasman were given five shots at goal in the first 21 minutes alone, with Hunt nailing three of them to give Tasman the early advantage, but once Taranaki woke up, so did the game.

In a three minute spell, both sides bagged their first tries through their right wingers, and the suddenly high-octane nature continued when Charlie Ngatai crossed after good work by the impressive Stephen Perofeta.

Taranaki had re-discovered their impressive brand of attacking rugby, but their discipline was allowing Tasman to stay in the contest, with Hunt continuing to bang over penalties to keep Tasman in front.

A quick double after relentless pressure put Taranaki in front, but just when they seemed to be wrestling the initiative away from Tasman, Hunt slotted his sixth penalty of the night to give Tasman the slenderest of leads.

Still, Taranaki looked dangerous, but when Seta Tamanivalu was sin-binned for a head-high tackle, they were forced onto the back foot.

Their last attempt came when Marty McKenzie audaciously attempted a penalty from 56 metres out, and while he had the distance, he pushed it to the left, giving Tasman the break they needed to book their spot in the final.


Taranaki 29 (D. O'Donnell, C. Ngatai, T. Tahuriorangi, S. Tamanivalu tries; M. McKenzie 3 cons, pen)
Tasman 30 (T. Faingaanuku, M. Hunt tries; Hunt con, 6 pens)
HT: 17-17