Bay of Plenty kept alive their hopes of making the ITM Cup play-offs with a heart-stopping 35-31 victory over league leaders Canterbury.
Bay of Plenty kept alive their hopes of making the ITM Cup play-offs with a heart-stopping 35-31 win over league leaders Canterbury on Tuesday.
The success propels the Steamers back up to third in the Premiership table while the Cantabs reclaim top spot after briefly losing it to Waikato.
Canterbury did get two points due to the margin of their defeat and also the fact that they scored four tries in a fine fightback. At 29-3 down at half-time, the visitors scored via Luke Romano, Willi Heinz, Ryan Crotty and Telusa Veainu. It wasn't enough.
Bay of Plenty full-back Toby Arnold grabbed the first try while number eight Colin Bourke got over before half-time. Fly-half Chris Noakes proved the difference between the two sides though, with an impressive 25-point haul that included six penalties, two conversions and one drop-goal enough to see off their heavyweight opponents.
As mentioned, the Steamers had put themselves into a commanding position before an away comeback brought the scores back to 32-31 with two minutes remaining on the clock.
But a late penalty from 26-year-old Noakes made the game secure for a win that ended a four-game losing run for Bay of Plenty, whose play-off fate is in their own hands.
Next week's final round in the competition sees both these sides on the road, with the Steamers facing Southland in Invercargill while Canterbury go to Dunedin to face Otago.
For Bay of Plenty:
Tries: Arnold, Bourke
Con: Noakes 2
Pen: Noakes 6
Tries: Romano, Heinz, Crotty, Veainu
Con: Bleyendaal 4
Bay of Plenty: 15 Toby Arnold, 14 Lelia Masaga, 13 Phil Burleigh, 12 Steve Kefu, 11 Ben Smith, 10 Chris Noakes, 9 Jamie Nutbrown, 8 Colin Bourke (capt), 7 Sam Cane, 6 Tanerau Latimer, 5 Culum Retallick, 4 Leon Power, 3 Josh Hohneck, 2 Dan Perrin, 1 Bronson Murray.
Replacements: 16 John Pareanga, 17 Tristan Moran/Greg Plesants Tate, 18 Luke Andrews, 19 Luke Braid, 20 Josh Hall, 21 Nick McCashin, 22 Jason Hona, 23 Pingi Talaapitaga.
Referee: Chris Pollock