Te Puke Sports proved the truth of the adage that rugby is an 80-minute game on Saturday.
The only time Te Puke led Te Puna in their Premier 1 Baywide clash at Murray Salt Stadium was in that 80th - and final - minute.
Trailing 18-6 going into the final quarter, Te Puke seemed out of sorts and Te Puna were in control, intent on avenging last season's Baywide final loss on the same ground.
But Te Puke converted rare and hard-won territory into points when replacement prop Joe Ormsby went over for his side's first try. Then, with almost no time remaining, winger Wemin Kapia extricated himself from a mass of bodies to dive over and make the score 18-18.
Jason Robertson kicked the conversion and Te Puke had used their get out of jail free card.
A fired-up Te Puna exerted plenty of pressure on the home team with two penalty goals in the 21st and 27th minutes taking them to a 6-0 lead. Robertson kicked a Te Puke penalty just before halftime to give the visitors a 6-3 advantage at the break.
Early in the second half, Robertson slotted his second penalty to tie the scores but Te Puna continued to dominate and pushed their score on by 12 before the Pirates' late flourish.
Across at Centennial Park, there was an even closer game, with Rotorua visitors
Whakarewarewa edging Rangiuru 26-25 after the hosts had led 10-7 at halftime. Elijah Nicholas (two) and Kiripa Clarke were the Rangiuru try scorers.
In the development competition, Te Puke lost 57-7 to Te Puna and Rangiuru beat Whakarewarewa 40-12.
Te Puke Sports has not carried their first-round dominance into the second phase of the Baywide competition, having already lost to Tauranga Sports, and the title race is wide open.
Te Puke heads to Greerton Park on Saturday where front runners Greerton Marist await. The game will give Te Puke the opportunity to reclaim the Jordan Cup (WBOPRFS Challenge Trophy) that Greerton took off Tauranga Sports last Saturday.
Rangiuru is at home again and will be looking to get back to winning ways when they entertain Mount Maunganui.
In the Division 2 (Section A) competition, Eastern Districts went down 38-20 at Katikati. Next Saturday, the Paengaroa side take on Galatea-Waiohau at home, with kickoff at 2.30pm.