Waikato held off a late fightback from Bay of Plenty to beat their local derby rivals 13-10 in a close ITM Cup tussle in Hamilton on Saturday.
Waikato held off a late fightback from Bay of Plenty to beat their local derby rivals 13-10 in a close ITM Cup tussle at Hamilton on Saturday.
Steamers' centre Phil Burleigh had the chance to snatch a draw in the dying minutes, but his penalty attempt fell agonisingly short of the posts in a hard-fought and physical Round One clash.
It was the Mooloo men's first win over the Bay of Plenty in seven years, with former All Black scrum-half Brendon Leonard scoring the game's crucial try.
Leonard touched down just before half-time to give his side a 10-3 lead, which proved the difference between the two sides as Waikato held off a fast-finishing Steamers outfit hoping to find a match-winner against their Chiefs franchise partners.
Bay of Plenty has enjoyed plenty of success against their big brothers from over the Kaimais lately but even with some help from the referee, they could not find the killer blow.
Waikato's Jack Lam was sent to the sin-bin for a dangerous tackle only for replays to show that he was not the culprit. Steamers' flank Tanerau Latimer was driven over against an undermanned Waikato pack soon afterwards, setting up the tight finish.
Burleigh landed the wide conversion and had a chance to level the scores with two minutes remaining via a 45m penalty shot. His attempt was straight but fell just under the crossbar.
Pens: Renata, Sweeney
For Bay of Plenty:
Waikato: 15 Christian Lealiifano, 14 Sosene Anesi, 13 Save Tokula, 12 Jackson Wilison, 11 Dwayne Sweeney, 10 Tren Renata, 9 Brendon Leonard; 8 Steven Setephano, 7 Jack Lam, 6 Liam Messam, 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 Dominiko Waqaniburotu, 19 Matt Vant Leven, 20 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 21 Henry Speight, 22 Tim Mikkelson.
Bay of Plenty: 15 Toby Arnold, 14 Lance MacDonald, 13 Brett Mather, 12 Grant McQuoid, 11 Jason Hona, 10 Dan Waenga, 9 Taniela Moa; 8 Colin Bourke (c), 7 Tanerau Latimer, 6 Luke Braid, 5 Culum Retallick, 4 Luke Andrews, 3 Josh Hohneck, 2 John Pareanga, 1 Joe Savage.
Replacements: 16 Simon Chisholm, 17 James McGougan, 18 Aidan Kuka, 19 Solomon King/Sam Cane, 20 Chad Tuoro, 21 Phil Burleigh, 22 Lelia Masaga.