Waikato ended their ITM Cup campaign on a high with a hard-fought 22-14 victory over Taranaki in Hamilton on Saturday.
The Mooloo men started the game brightly and raced into a 15-0 lead at the break. They opened the scoring in the eighth minute after Taranaki were pinned for an infringement at a breakdown.
Ten minutes later they extended their lead when their captain Jackson Willison after running onto an inside pass from Adam Burn close to the try-line.
Waikato piled on the pressure and were awarded a penalty try, in the 32nd minute, Burn was taken out by Jarrad Hoeata with the try-line begging.Renata added the extras to give the home side a comfortable 15-0 lead at half-time.
They extended their lead shortly after the break when Sam Christie scored their third try, from close quarters, after Burn was again prominent in the build-up with strong ball-carrying.
Renata succeeded with the conversion but the rest of the half saw a fightback from the visitors, who scored 14 unanswered points.
Inside centre Seta Tamanivalu scored their first try in the 56th minute after powering his way through three tackles. Andre Taylor slotted the conversion and five minutes later he also scored a try after Taranaki's forwards sucked in the hosts' defence with patient build-up play.
Taylor added the conversion and although Taranaki tried to narrow the gap during the rest of the match, Waikato held on thanks to resilient defending.
Tries: Willison, Christie, penalty try
Con: Renata 2
Tries: Tamanivalu, Taylor
Con: Taylor 2
Waikato: 15 Trent Renata, 14 Kylem O'Donnell, 13 Save Tokula, 12 Jackson Willison (c) 11 Semisi Masirewa, 10 Sam Christie, 9 Brad Weber, 8 Adam Burn, 7 Zak Hohneck, 6 Rory Grice, 5 Sam Kilgour, 4 Whetu Douglas, 3 Ben Tameifuna, 2 Brayden Mitchell, 1 Toby Smith.
Replacements: 16 Vance Elliott, 17 Paul Alo-Emile, 18 Josh Tyrell, 19 Zane Kapeli, 20 Jono Armstrong, 21 Wharenui Hawera, 22 Joe Perawiti.
Taranaki: 15 Kurt Baker, 14 Andre Taylor, 13 Seta Tamanivalu, 12 Isaia Tuifua, 11 Jackson Ormond, 10 Frazier Climo, 9 Chris Smylie, 8 Blade Thomson, 7 Doug Tietjens, 6 Berny Hall, 5 Kane Barrett (c), 4 Jarrad Hoeata, 3 Ryan Cocker, 2 Timo Tutavaha, 1 Sione Lea.
Replacements: 16 Rhys Marshall, 17 Carl Carmichael, 18 James Broadhurst, 19 Mitchell Crosswell, 20 Jamison Gibson-Park, 21 Daniel Brooks, 22 Ope Peleseuma.
Referee: Shane McDermott