Northland are on the board in their 2018 Mitre 10 Cup campaign, and the Taniwha faithful have Jesse Parete to thank.

There was just one problem for the young forward – he was on the other team.

In the dying stages of Taranaki's match against Northland in Whangarei on Sunday, the ill-disciplined Taranaki lock committed the most unforgivable of penalties with his side ahead by a mere two points.

Parete, who would surely be in the conversation for the most penalised player in the opening rounds of the competition, left his feet at the breakdown in trying to secure a turnover 10 metres out from, and directly in front of, his own posts. There was no question as to what would happen next, as Northland's Matt Wright set the pyre alight with Taranaki's hopes of a win tied to it.

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The 18-17 win gives Northland their first of the season, while Taranaki fall to their second loss – both coming at the hands of a Championship team.

Through their first four matches of the season, Taranaki's days as Premiership heavyweights look to be numbered with the side yet to produce a convincing 80-minute performance. Northland, on the other hand, should take confidence out of a match in which they were able to grind away at the visitors and ultimately reap the rewards.

After Latu Vaeno scored the first try of the match in the sixth minute to give Taranaki an early lead, the threat of a possible blowout loomed large. Taranaki couldn't build from it though, and the scrappy brand of football that followed played right into Northland's hands.

Tom Robinson hit back for the hosts midway through the opening half and, as the sides looked set to go into the break locked at 10, Taranaki winger Manasa Mataele scored under the sticks after the buzzer.

Ahead 17-10 coming out of the sheds, Taranaki were in the box position to finish strong and close out a win. Instead, they did neither.

A 55th minute try to Northland winger Tamati Tua reduced the gap to two, but Wright could not level it with the ensuing conversion attempt. He made up for it though, making no mistake from right in front of the posts as the siren sounded.

Earlier in the day, Counties Manukau closed out a thrilling 29-25 win against Hawke's Bay in Napier for their first win of the season.

Northland 18 (Tom Robinson, Tamati Tua tries; Matt Wright con, 2 pens)
Taranaki 17 (Latu Vaeno, Manasa Mataele tries; Beaudien Waaka 2 cons, pen).
HT: 10-17

Counties Manukau 29 (Tevita Nabura, Dan Hyatt, Joe Royal, Matiaha Martin tries; Latiume Fosita 3 cons, pen)
Hawke's Bay 25 (Jonah Lowe 2, Josh Kaifa, Folau Fakatava tries; Tiaan Falcon con, pen).
HT: 7-10