Harbour leave it late to stun Waikato

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Sunday, October 8, 2017    Getty Images

Having missed two earlier penalties to seal a come-from-behind win, the pressure was on replacement goal-kicker Ben Volavola.

The ball sailed just over the crossbar from 45 metres, sealing what had looked like an unlikely victory.

It was an historic loss for the hosts, their sixth consecutive defeat that saw them remain rooted to the bottom of the Premiership ladder and in serious danger of relegation.

Their final match of the season against Bay of Plenty is a significant one as their battle to remain in the top flight continues. Their solitary bonus point from Sunday's match saw them close the gap on Auckland, who play Canterbury at Eden Park in their last clash of the season.

One side who will not be sweating on next week's results is North Harbour, who played their second game in five days on a damp and dark Sunday in Hamilton.

Both sides traded penalties in the first half, with Waikato holding a slim 6-3 lead at halftime. It was a first 40 minutes that belonged to the purists, although Dan Hilton-Jones' superb effort to dislodge the ball from a diving Tyler Campbell saved a certain try for the visitors.

North Harbour also had a try disallowed, after a knock-on prior to what looked to be Hapakuki Moala-Liava's first Mitre10 Cup try.

It was not until the final quarter of the match when the game came to life, as ill discipline and a moment of brilliance set the clash alight.

A poor pass from Hilton-Jones allowed Matt Lansdown to toe the ball throuh. He regathered and slid across the line, before Sevu Reece unnecessarily joined in with a late hit on a Harbour player.

He was duly sent from the bin, and was joined less than five minutes later by his captain James Tucker, who was sent from the field for cynical play in a Harbour maul close to the line.

Harbour fullback Matt Duffie scored in spectacular fashion in the corner to close the gap to 10-11.

Volavola's two missed efforts sandwiched Reece's own for Waikato. Volavola was given a third opportunity to seal the victory for Harbour and it was one he finally capitalised on.

Waikato 11 (Matt Lansdown try; Lansdown 2 pen) North Harbour 13 (Matt Duffie try; Bryn Gatland pen, Ben Volavola con, pen). HT: 6-3.