Waikato held on for a thrilling 20-19 ITM Cup win over Tasman in Hamilton on Thursday, which gives their Premiership relegation fears a huge boost.
The Mooloo Men's third victory from seven games sees them leapfrog the fifth-placed Bay of Plenty on the table, and will no doubt give last year's finalists a useful confidence boost.
The lead changed hands several times in a see-saw contest and never extended by more than six points as Tasman held a slender 16-13 lead at half-time.
The Makos extended their lead to six points (19-13) after the break thanks to two more penalty goals by Tom Marshall.
However, the home side hit the front through a 45m solo try to wing Save Tokolua with pivot Piers Francis's conversion making it a one-point buffer for the final 25 minutes and that's how it remained.
Tries: Leonard, Tokula
Cons: Francis 2
Pens: Francis 2
Pens: Marshall 4
Waikato: 15 Tim Mikkelson, 14 Declan O'Donnell, 13 Save Tokula, 12 Jackson Willison, 11 Joe Webber, 10 Piers Francis, 9 Brendon Leonard, 8 Alex Bradley (c), 7 Zak Hohneck, 6 Rory Grice, 5 Sam Kilgour, 4 Chris Middleton, 3 Ben May, 2 Vance Elliott, 1 Latu Talakai. Replacements: 16 Kalem Chan Boon, 17 Ted Tauroa, 18 Anthony Wise, 19 Jono Armstrong, 20 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 21 Sam Christie, 22 Trent Renata.
Tasman: 15 Tom Marshall, 14 Peter Betham, 13 Kieron Fonotia, 12 Andrew Goodman (c), 11 Robbie Malneek, 10 Hayden Cripps, 9 Jeremy Su'a, 8 Jordan Taufua, 7 Shane Christie, 6 Tevita Koloamatangi, 5 Joe Wheeler, 4 Filipo Levi, 3 Campbell Johnstone, 2 Quentin MacDonald, 1 Tim Perry.
Replacements: 16 Francis Smith, 17 Sam Prattley, 18 Riki Hoeata, 19 Vernon Fredericks, 20 Gary Redmond, 21 Steve Alfeld, 22 Albert Nikoro.
Referee: Garratt Williamson (Wellington)