Waikato beat Auckland at Eden Park for the first time in seven years thanks to a late try from Dwayne Sweeney handing them a 21-18 win.
Waikato beat Auckland at Eden Park for the first time in seven years thanks to a Dwayne Sweeney try at the death that handed his team a 21-18 victory on Saturday.
After taking the lead with a try to Peter Saili four minutes into the second half, Auckland staunchly defended their line as Waikato launched wave after wave of attack at them in the final stages of the game.
And while Auckland held them out tremendously, in the end Waikato finally got the overlap they had been so desperately searching for as Sweeney dived over to clinch the match-winning try on full-time.
In the wet and greasy conditions, neither team was able to find any real momentum early on were instead forced to use their goal kickers to rack up points, Matt Berquist and Trent Renata both trading two penalties a piece to leave the scores at 6-all after 20 minutes.
But Sweeney soon sparked the Waikato side into action 24 minutes in, taking a high ball well before beating three players in a poor defensive kick chase by the home side.
He then linked up with lock Romana Graham who passed the ball back to him as he then offloaded to Sosene Anesi who raced away and scored to give Waikato a 13-6 lead.
Auckland managed to build some momentum and struck back seven minutes later thanks to a moment of brilliance by new pivot Berquist.
From a line-out on the opposition 22m line, the former Hawke's Bay play-maker took the ball to the line, stepping inside his opposite number before offloading to Daniel Braid.
After the ball was recycled, Berquist was again in on the action as he drew in a defender before firing a beautiful wide pass out to Onosa'i Auva'a who scored in the corner.
But from there it was all Waikato in the finals stages of the first half as they attacked the Auckland line with venom, Chay Raui being forced to pull of a brilliant cover tackle on the stroke of half-time to deny what seemed like a certain try to winger Henry Speight.
But the roles reversed immediately after the break as Auckland scored through Saili less then four minutes into the second stanza.
After the Auckland forwards worked their way up the field, patiently wearing out the Waikato defence, the ball was sent wide as Saili managed to get on the outside of his man to score in the corner.
But that was as far as it got for Auckland, Renata landing a penalty kick 20 minutes from full-time to narrow the deficit before Sweeney struck the killer blow on the hooter to deny Auckland what would have been a well-earned victory.
Tries: Auva'a, Saili
Pens: Berquist 2
Tries: Anesi, Sweeney
Auckland: 15 Brent Ward, 14 Atieli Pakalani, 13 Ben Atiga, 12 Jamie Helleur, 11 Chay Raui, 10 Matt Berquist, 9 Toby Morland, 8 Peter Saili, 7 Daniel Braid, 6 Onosai'i Auva'a, 5 Andrew van der Heijden, 4 Kurtis Haiu, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 Tom McCartney, 1 Tevita Mailau.
Replacements: 16 Ash Dixon, 17 Pauliasi Manu, 18 Liaki Moli, 19 Chris Lowery, 20 Brenton Helleur, 21 Ash Moeke, 22 Dave Thomas .
Waikato: 15 Sosene Anesi, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Save Tokula, 12 Christian Leali'ifano, 11 Dwayne Sweeney, 10 Trent Renata, 9 Brendon Leonard, 8 Stephen Setephano, 7 Jack Lam, 6 Dominiko Waqaniburotu, 5 Toby Lynn, 4 Romana Graham, 3 Nathan White (c), 2 Aled de Malmanche, 1 Toby Smith.
Replacements: 16 Vern Kamo, 17 Hikairo Forbes, 18 Matt Vant Leven, 19 Alex Bradley, 20 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 21 Tim Mikkelson, 22 Sam Christie.
Referee: Vinny Munro