Taranaki grabbed their third win of their IRM Cup campaign, a tight 24-15 victory over Bay of Plenty on Friday.
The home side was buoyant after the win over Waikato last week and looked full of beans, with Kurt Baker in fine form and Willie Ripia directing play well. Flanker Scott Waldrom and locks James Broadhurst and Craig Clarke were the pick of the pack.
Waldrom opened the scoring after ten minutes, taking a pass from scrum-half Brett Goodin from a line-outy and smashing his way through.
Ripia converted, and converted Jayden Hayward's try too, with Hayward picking off a ball dropped by Lelia Masaga. In between, he had also added a penalty for a 17-0 lead.
Then came a hiccup. Taranaki lost hooker Laurence Corlett to a suspected broken forearm after 30 minutes and, almost before he had left the field, the Bay of Plenty forwards had combined in a rolling maul which ended with lock Colin Bourke scoring.
Baker set up David Smith for Taranaki's third try with a chip, regather and pass and Ripia converted to restore the 17-point advantage by half-time.
The Steamers trailed, but had been significantly ahead in terms of territory and possession and began to turn the screw a bit harder at the start of the second half.
Replacement five-eighth Daniel Waenga kicked a penalty to make it 24-10 and after Taniela Moa had lost the ball in contact over the line, Taranaki began to look besieged.
The Steamers' constant pressure finally told 10 minutes from the end when Burleigh broke through a gap 60 metres out and replacement wing Ben Smith had a clear run to the line. Waenga missed the conversion and it was 24-15.
That was as good as it got though, as Taranaki's rearguard action held firm.
Tries: Waldrom, Hayward, Smith
Con: Ripia 3
For Bay of Plenty:
Tries: Bourke, Smith
Taranaki: 15 Kurt Baker, 14 Andre Taylor/Isaia Tuifua, 13 George Pisi, 12 Jayden Hayward, 11 David Smith, 10 Willie Ripia, 9 Brett Goodin, 8 Ben Souness, 7 Chris Walker, 6 Scott Waldrom, 5 Craig Clarke (c), 4 James Broadhurst, 3 Michael Bent, 2 Laurence Corlett, 1 Shane Cleaver.
Replacements: 16 Timo Tutavaha, 17 Carl Carmichael, 18 Leon Power, 19 Samuela Vunisa, 20 Tyson Keats, 21 Beauden Barrett, 22 Tuifua/Cody Rei.
Bay of Plenty: 15 Toby Arnold, 14 Lelia Masaga, 13 Brent Mather, 12 Grant McQuoid, 11 Lance McDonald, 10 Phil Burleigh, 9 Taniela Moa, 8 Colin Bourke (c), 7 Tanerau Latimer, 6 Luke Braid, 5 Culum Retallick, 4 Luke Andrews, 3 James McGougan, 2 John Pareanga, 1 Josh Hohneck.
Replacements: 16 Simon Chisholm, 17 Joe Savage, 18 Aiden Kuka, 19 Sam Cane, 20 Chad Tuoro, 21 Dan Waenga, 22 Ben Smith.