Hawke's Bay have recorded their first win of the NPC season, roaring back from a big deficit to beat Counties Manukau 37-30 at McLean Park.
Winless after two starts, you would never have thought that the Magpies would trailing by just a point at halftime in this clash.
They made a poor start, not aided by the eagle eye of referee Richard Kelly, enabling Counties to take early control of the match.
Two penalties to Counties first five-eighth Baden Kerr put the visitors on their way, before home town No 10 Dan Waenga was able to reply with one of his own.
But Kerr showed he can do more than just kick, when he put fullback Tim Nanai-Williams in for the match's first try.
Having initially looked undecided, Kerr decided to take the Magpies' defensive line on, making a useful half-break before offloading to his hard-charging fullback.
Kerr's own conversion made it 13-3.
A further try to halfback August Pulu wasn't long in coming, having been set up by a clever kick into space from Nanai-Williams.
Kelly hard been harsh on Hawke's Bay early but he went on to show himself to be firm, but fair.
Counties weren't endearing themselves to him, enabling Waenga to add a further three penalties.
From 20-6 down, the Magpies were soon in reasonable touch at 23-12 when Kelly's patience with the players ran out in the 34th minute.
Having called the two captains together - Hawke's Bay's Mike Coman and DJ Forbes of Counties - Kelly informed them that the next infringer would probably head to the sin bin.
It turned out to be Counties prop Simon Lemalu, who was swiftly sent for 10.
The Magpies used their numerical advantage well, when hooker Hika Elliot went over to score from a lineout drive.
The conversion made Counties'lead just 23-22 at halftime, much to the delight of the crowd.
Counties could then have scored any number of tries after the break.
It took some brilliant broken field running from wing Sherwin Stowers to finally do it, scorching in under the Magpies' sticks.
The match still had plenty of legs in it and was soon locked at 30-all, after centre Tua Saseve scored an unconverted try for the Bay.
With 20 minutes remaining the points were either side's for the taking.
Hawke's Bay deserved to be the one to secure them after Waenga scored a try, not long after legitimate Ihaia West one had been ruled out.
Hawke's Bay 37 (Hika Elliot, Tua Saseve, Dan Waenga tries; Waenga 6 pen, 2 con) Counties Manukau 30 (Tim Nanai-Williams, August Pulu, Sherwin Stowers tries; Baden Kerr 3 pen, 3 con). HT: 22-23.
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