Supposed provincial minnows Tasman came within nine points of causing their second major upset in a week tonight when they just fell short of taking the Ranfurly Shield off Taranaki, losing 40-49.
Just about every rugby supporter in the country, outside of Taranaki, would have been cheering Tasman on as they arrived at Yarrow Stadium with the attitude you need to snatch the famous Log o' Wood.
Tasman were never meant to cause Taranaki this much trouble.
Dead last in the NPC last year, they showed their 25-22 win over four time defending champions Canterbury was no fluke.
They simply threw everything they had at Taranaki, and then some.
Led by captain Andrew Goodman, Tasman ran the ball from all parts of the field, breaking Taranaki's defence at will.
Only 10,000 local fans turned up tonight, many who stayed away thought next week's challenge from Hawke's Bay would be better.
They almost rued their decision.
Taranaki had supposedly worked hard on their defence during the week.
It didn't show as Tasman exploited holes around the ruck, through the midfield and out wide to have Taranaki reeling constatnly throughout the match.
In the end, a Beauden Barrett try two minutes from time saved Taranaki's blushes.
Taranaki's major problem was their inability to play for territory when they should have, opting instead to run it from inside their 22.
They made too many mistakes while doing it and Tasman were happy to exploit the gifts they were handed.
The first 40 minutes produced one of the most bizarre halves of rugby in more than a century of shield challenges.
From the outset, both sides adopted an attack-first attitude, Taranaki just edging Tasman four tries to three as the sides went into the shed with the score 32-30 in favour of the home side.
So frenetic was the action, the scoreboard almost blew a fuse.
It got to the point where Tasman were saying 'whatever you can do, we'll try and top'.
While the purists will bemoan the lack of defence - and it really was poor at times - there were some fantastic long range tries scored.
Kurt Baker, shifted to fullback in the absence of an injured Andre Taylor, scored a brace, both from long range, while wing Waisake Naholo dotted down from a set move, following a 5m scrum.
Taranaki No 8 Blade Thomson got the scoring going after less than a minute following a Tasman turnover.
Not to be outdone, Tasman's props - Campbell Johnstone and Tim Perry - both scored after some excellent lead-up work, while wing James Lowe also crossed the line, again from long-range.
The boot of Tasman captain Andrew Goodman also kept the scoreboard motoring along for the challenges as he collected 15 points in the first half.
Taranaki 49 (Kurt Baker 2, Blade Thomson, Waisake Naholo, Beauden arrett tries; Beauden Barrett 6 pens, 3 cons)
Tasman 40 (Tim Perry, James Lowe, Campbell Johnstone, Robbie Malneek, Quentin MacDonald tries; Andrew Goodman 3 pens, 3 cons). Ht: 32-30.
Live updates: Taranaki vs Tasman
FULL TIME: Taranaki win 49 - 40 over Tasman.
79 mins second half: Barrett misses. Taranaki 49 - Tasman 40.
77 mins second half: Taranaki score a try.
76 mins second half:Taranaki have the ball 5 metres out and are attacking hard
71 mins second half: Tasman five metres out only to lose the ball. Taranaki clear.
69 mins second half: Taranaki give away a penalty just inside their 22 metre line. Tasman to feed the scrum.
66 mins second half: Taranaki manage to break out of their own 22 only to give the ball away in front of the posts. Tasman look good.
65 mins second half: Tasman are hot on attack inside Taranaki's 22.
60 mins second half: Goodman misses the conversion. Taranaki 44 - Tasman 40.
59 mins second half: Tasman's Robbie Malneek scores a try.
56 mins second half: Barrett scores a penalty. Taranaki 44 - Tasman 35.
55 mins second half: Tasmans Vernon Fredericks get a yellow card.
50 mins second half: Barret scores another penalty kick. Taranaki 41 - Tasman 35.
46 mins second half: Barret scores a penalty kick. Taranaki 38 - Tasman 35.
43 mins second half: Barret levels the score with a penalty kick from 35 metres out. Taranaki 35 - Tasman 35.
42 mins second half: Goodman misses the conversion. Tasman lead 35 -32.
41mins second half: Tasman score a try.
Second half begins.
HALF TIME: Taranaki lead 32 - 30.
37 mins first half: Tasman's Goodman scores a penalty from Taranaki's 22. Taranaki 32 - Tasman 30
34 mins first half: Barrett lands a penalty. Taranaki 32 - Tasman 27.
32 mins first half: Goodman converts. Taranaki 29 - Tasman 27.
31 mins first half: Tasman score a try through Tim Perry.
29 mins first half: Tasman's Andrew Goodman lands a penalty from half way. Taranaki lead 29 - 20.
25 mins first half: Barrett misses. Taranaki lead 29 - 17.
24 mins first half: Kurt Baker scores a try for Taranaki.
22 mins first half: Andrew Goodman converts. Taranaki 24 - Tasman 17.
20 mins first half: Tasman score a try out wide.
19 mins first half: Barrett converts. Taranaki 24 - Tasman 10
18 mins first half: Taranaki get the put in for a five metre scrum and Waisake Naholo scores a try.
16 mins first half: Barrett misses penalty attempt.
11 mins first half: Tasman's Andrew Goodman kicks a penalty. Taranaki lead 17 - 10.
7 mins first half: Taranaki's Baker scores a try. Barrett converts. Taranaki 17 - Tasman 7.
6 mins first half: Barrett scores a penalty, Taranaki lead 10 - 7.
3 mins first half: James Lowe scores an easy try for Tasman. Andrew Goodman converts. Taranaki 7 - Tasman 7.
1 min first half: Barrett converts. Taranaki 7 - Tasman 0.
26 seconds first half: seconds Taranaki score a try.
Taranaki kick off.
Kick off at 7.35pm.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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