ITM Cup
Taranaki crowned champions of New Zealand
ESPN Staff
October 25, 2014
Report Match details
Date/Time: Oct 25, 2014, 19:35 local, 06:35 GMT
Venue: Yarrow Stadium, New Plymouth
Taranaki 36 - 32 Tasman
Half-time: 16 - 10
Tries: R Marshall, Ngatai 2
Cons: Rei 3
Pens: Rei 5
Tries: Fonotia, Guyton 2, Samu
Cons: Banks 3
Pens: Banks 2
Taranaki's James Marshall skins Tasman's Tom Marshall, Taranaki v Tasman, ITM Cup Premiership final, Yarrow Stadium, New Plymouth, October 25, 2014
James Marshall skins Tom Marshall
© Getty Images
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Taranaki have claimed their first New Zealand national provincial title, withstanding a fightback from Tasman Makos in the ITM Cup Premiership final at Yarrow Stadium in New Plymouth.

Taranaki and the Makos, first and second in the minor premiership, were both chasing a maiden title, with the hosts having defeated Auckland in extra-time while Tasman defeated six-time defending champions Canterbury to reach the final, but the Amber and Black would not be denied in front of 21,000 fans at their home ground.

The victory completes a remarkable turnaround for Taranaki, who missed relegation last season by just one spot having scored only three wins and 14 tries in their 10 matches; Tasman, meanwhile, scraped into the Premiership with a one-point win over Hawke's Bay in the 2013 championship final.

Taranaki proved lethal on the counter, with all three of their tries scoring after Tasman errors, while the Makos will lament four missed attempts from record-breaking goal-kicker Marty Banks.

Charlie Ngatai proved to be a key figure for the hosts, the newly announced New Zealand Maori captain scoring a brace of tries in the 15 minutes immediately after half-time. First he benefited from a wicked bounce after the Makos had spilled the ball and Marty McKenzie had launched a hopeful kick down field, and then he pouched a 50-metre intercept to extend the advantage to 15 points after picking off a pass from Tom Marshall with the Makos hard on attack. The flawless Cody Rei extended the margin to 20 with the conversion and a penalty, and the game seemed won.

But the visitors refused to lie down.

Tasman scored converted tries through Billy Guyton and Peter Samu to get back within a converted try - 33-27 - with nine minutes to play, and they had momentum and seemed poised to claim an amazing comeback with reserve lock Tevita Cavubati making ground at will. But Rei completed his perfect night with the boot by landing a penalty from in front to put the hosts back past a converted try, and that margin proved enough as Guyton claimed his second try of the night before Banks missed the conversion after the siren.

Taranaki players celebrate victory over Tasman in the ITM Cup Premiership final © Getty Images
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