Hawke's Bay wing Richard Buckman kicked an injury-time penalty to end Saturday's absorbing see-saw ITM Cup battle with Waikato 27-27 at McLean Park in Napier.
It was the Magpies' second draw of the season after sharing the spoils in their season opener against Canterbury, and once again had to rely on a long distance effort to level the scoreline in the 83rd minute.
It was a remarkable come-back by the home side who trailed 12-6 at the break and were outscored by four tries to two by their opponents.
Hawke's Bay got the ball rolling with a well-struck 40m penalty from fly-half Daniel Kirkpatrick in the fifth minute, but Waikato hit back inside with a try to Save Tokula after the centre hit the ball at pace out wide and barrel over for the opening five-pointer.
Waikato pivotTrent Renata nailed the conversion, and continued to keep Hawke's Bay on the back foot with some astute tactical kicking.
The Mooloo Men were in for their second thanks to a sniping run from discarded All Blacks scrum-half Brendon Leonard after finding space on the blindside. Leonard broke the Hawke's Bay line, offloaded to wing Tim Mikkelson who then drew the defence before linking with Liam Messam on the inside for the score.
Renata missed the conversion and Hawke's Bay closed the gap through another long-range Kirkpatrick penalty with 25 minutes gone.
The Magpies defence was pushed to its limit as half-time neared, first by Messam on the left then by Mikkelson on the right. Both times, some excellent scrambling defence saved all-but-certain tries and Waikato went into the break with an unconvincing six-point lead.
Waikato drew first blood in the second spell as Renata forced his way over despite Karl Lowe's best efforts. A poor kick-chase from the Magpies gave Sosene Anesi far too much time and space, and the full-back raced 30 metres before finding Dwayne Sweeney in support, who then fed Renata.
Hawke's Bay responded five minutes later through prop Clint Newland, who proved unstoppable from close in. With another Kirkpatrick penalty narrowing Waikato's lead to 19-14, loosehead prop Toby Smith gave the visitors some breathing space when he powered over with 20 minutes remaining.
However, Hawke's Bay full-back Gillies Kaka showed tremendous skill and footwork five minutes later to toe the ball ahead, dance along the touchline and steal a dazzling try.
A 50m Buckman penalty levelled the scores at 24-24, before another Renata 40m effort returned the lead to Waikato only to see Buckman step up again in injury time for another mammoth effort to tie the match.
For Hawke's Bay:
Tries: Newland, Kaka
Pens: Kirkpatrick 3, Buckman 2
Tries: Tokula, Messam, Renata, Smith
Cons: Renata 2
Hawke's Bay: 15 Gillies Kaka, 14 Zac Guildford, 13 Jason Shoemark (c), 12 Ryan McLeod, 11 Richard Buckman, 10 Daniel Kirkpatrick, 9 Kahn Fotuali'i, 8 Grant Webb, 7 Karl Lowe, 6 Mike Coman, 5 Leighton Price, 4 Bryn Evans, 3 Clint Newland, 2 Hikawera Elliot, 1 Josh Keys.
Replacements: 16 Eugene Smith, 17 Whetu Barber, 18 Ross Kennedy, 19 Michael Johnson, 20 Chris Eaton, 21 Star Timu, 22 Sinoti Sinoti.
Waikato: 15 Sosene Anesi, 14 Tim Mikkelson, 13 Save Tokula, 12 Christian Lealiifano, 11 Dwayne Sweeney, 10 Trent Renata, 9 Brendon Leonard, 8 Liam Messam, 7 Zak Hohneck, 6 Jack Lam, 5 Romana Graham, 4 Toby Lynn, 3 Nathan White (c), 2 Aled de Malmanche, 1 Toby Smith.
Replacements: 16 Vern Kamo, 17 Ben May, 18 Dominiko Waqaniburotu, 19 Alex Bradley, 20 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 21 Sam Christie, 22 Henry Speight.
Referee: Kane McBride