Joe Reynolds missed a 82nd minute penalty to hand Taranaki a narrow 30-29 victory over Counties Manukau on Wednesday.
In a pulsating, exciting game in which the lead changed numerous times it was Taranaki who came away with the points thanks to a 76th minute penalty by Marty McKenzie. Manukau had a chance to snatch victory two minutes into extra time when they were awarded a kickable penalty, but Reynolds pushed it wide as his team went down at home to a single point.
Taranaki led for a large part of the game, but Manukau faught back in the second half to overtake them before the late McKenzie penalty effectively sealed their fate.
The scored were locked at 7-7 early on before Taranaki pulled away with two penalties and a second try through Stephen Perofeta, who received an offload from Mckenzie on his inside to score in the corner. The successful conversion gave Taranaki a 20-7 half-time lead.
Manukau came back hard after the break and scored two tries in the space of three minutes to bring them right back into the game at 20-19, Reynolds missing the conversion which would have given them a narrow one-point lead.
When the home side claimed the lead in the 68th minute when replacement Richard Judd crashed over from close range to make it 26-20, it looked like they might hang on for the result. But Taranaki hit straight back with a try of their own two minutes later through Mitchell Crosswell which made it an one-point game with nine minutes to play.
Reynolds slotted a penalty to give Manukau a 29-27 lead but they conceded a penalty three minutes later which ultimately sealed their fate.
For Counties Manukau
Tries: Molia, Taufua, Stowers, Judd
Cons: Reynolds 3
Tries: Wainui, Perofeta, Crosswell
Cons: McKenzie 3
Pens: McKenzie 3
Counties Manukau: 15 Luteru Laulala, 14 Sione Molia, 13 Sam Vaka, 12 Cardiff Vaega, 11 Sherwin Stowers, 10 Piers Francis, 9 Augustine Pulu (cc), 8 Sootala Fa’aso’o, 7 Jordan Taufua, 6 Matt Vaai, 5 Jimmy Tupou (cc), 4 Matiaha Martin, 3 Kalolo Tuiloma, 2 Gafatasi Su’a, 1 Sean Bagshaw
Replacements: 16 Sione Anga’aelangi, 17 Sean Paranihi, 18 Sione Faletau, 19 Cameron Skelton, 20 Viliami Taulani, 21 Richard Judd, 22 Joe Reynolds, 23 Toni Pulu
Taranaki: 15 Stephen Perofeta, 14 Beaudein Waaka, 13 Sean Wainui, 12 Johnny Faauli, 11 Declan O’Donnell, 10 Marty McKenzie, 9 Kylem O’Donnell, 8 Toa Halafihi, 7 Lachlan Boshier, 6 Mitchell Crosswell, 5 Leighton Price, 4 Leon Power, 3 Ryan Cocker, 2 Rhys Marshall, 1 Mitchell Graham
Replacements: 16 Harry Jones, 17 Reuben O’Neill, 18 Asaeli Sorovaki, 19 Mitchell Brown, 20 Iopu Iopu-Aso, 21 Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 22 Jackson Ormond, 23 Manasa Mataele