Sat, Nov 20, 2021 9:01 PM
The Mako came within three points of achieving its threepeat. Photo: Shuttersport (File)
The Mako had its quest for a hat-trick of titles foiled at the hands of Waikato this evening.
Tasman fell agonisingly short in the Premiership final, going down 23-20 in a thriller.
It began with a fairytale season, an unbeaten run to an inaugural premiership title in 2019.
The Mako followed this up with a gritty effort against a highly-favoured Auckland side to go back-to-back last season.
However, a third consecutive crown has eluded the side in a season where the squad was ravaged by injury and depleted through All Blacks duty.
Not to mention the constant uncertainties and disruptions as a result of Covid-19, the Mako can be proud of its stellar season.
Written off by many after being soundly defeated in the shield challenge and only just scraping into the playoffs, the Mako peaked at the perfect time, producing two near-flawless performances against Wellington, Hawke's Bay before falling to the Moo-loo's.
D'Angelo Leuila kicked off the scoring in the final as Hamilton put on a stunning evening for the crescendo of the provincial season.
Tasman claimed the lead approaching the half hour mark, Regan Ware finishing off a brilliant break by halfback Louie Chapman.
Just as Tasman appeared to be asserting control, speedster Bailyn Sullivan turned the tide in a flash as he latched onto a poor pass to streak away for Waikato's first try.
Mitch Hunt evened the honours before Leuila put the hosts back in front at halftime with a penalty after the siren.
Almost immediately after Hunt squared it up again, Sullivan struck for a second time, another intercept putting Waikato up 20-13.
Quentin MacDonald entered the fray in his 100th cap for Tasman while Levi Aumua made a massive impact off the pine.
The hulking centre made two surging breaks within minutes of getting on the field, his second setting up Quin Strange to score and reestablish the stalemate with ten to play.
Replacement first five Fletcher Smith then kicked the crucial points that would end up separating the two gallant teams, the win breaking a 15-year title drought for Waikato.
Tasman 20 (Ware, Strange, tries, Hunt, 1 con, 3 pens)
Waikato 23 (Sullivan 2, tries, Leuila, 2 cons, 2 pens, Smith 1 pen)