Taranaki overcame a 14-point deficit win their fist game of the NPC season, beating Waikato 30-23 in Hamilton on Friday.
Waikato came into the match as the favourites after defeating Southland, but after a loss to Wellington last week Taranaki had a point to prove.
Scrumhalf Tawera Kerr-Barlow set up multiple try scoring opportunities in the first half, but it was the last minute dash by Taranaki's Chris Walker who cemented the victory for the green and yellows.
The opening 20 minutes belonged to the home side as they looked to send a message to their championship rivals, as Taranaki struggled to match the early pace of the Mooloos.
However, just before the final hooter it was Taranaki replacement Chris Walker who intercepted the ball from the desperate Waikato side to give the green and yellows the clear victory.
Tries: Smith, Kerr-Barlow
Cons: Donald 2
Pens: Renata 3
Tries: Taylor, Hayward, Walker, Thomson
Cons: Taylor 2
Pens: Taylor 2
Waikato: 15 Trent Renata, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Save Tokula, 12 Jackson Willison, 11 Declan O'Donnell, 10 Stephen Donald, 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Rory Grice, 7 Marty Holah, 6 Matt Vant Leven, 5 Romana Graham, 4 Toby Lynn, 3 Nathan White (captain), 2 Aled de Malmanche, 1 Toby Smith.
Replacements: 16 Marcel Cummings-Toone or Ted Tauroa, 17 Ben May, 18 Jack Lam, 19 Chris Middleton, 20 Brendon Leonard, 21 Sam Christie, 22 Tim Mikkelson, 23 Latu Talakai.
Taranaki: 15 Andre Taylor, 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Isaia Tuifua, 12 Jayden Hayward, 11 Jackson Ormond, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Tyson Keats, 8 Samuela Vunisa, 7 Scott Waldrom, 6 Ben Souness, 5 Craig Clarke (captain), 4 Jason Eaton, 3 Michael Bent, 2 Laurence Corlett, 1 Carl Carmichael.
Replacements: 16 Timo Tutavaha, 17 Shane Cleaver, 18 Blade Thomson, 19 Chris Walker, 20 Brett Goodin, 21 Jack Cameron, 22 Willie Rickards, 23 Willie Ioane.
Referee: Kane McBride
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