26 Oct 2014

Taranaki claim first national title

8:29 am on 26 October 2014

Taranaki have claimed their maiden national provincial rugby title after beating Tasman 36-32 in a thrilling Premiership final at Yarrow Stadium in New Plymouth.

Taranaki celebrate winning the ITM Cup Premiership Final.

Taranaki celebrate winning the ITM Cup Premiership Final. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Tasman outscored Taranaki four tries to three but wing Codey Rei proved the difference for the hosts, the 25-year-old nailing all eight of his attempts on goal including five penalties and three conversions for a personal haul of 21 points.

Since the finals were introduced in 1992 no team from outside the 'big five' provinces of Canterbury, Wellington, Auckland, Waikato and Otago had won New Zealand's national title until Taranaki's triumph last night.

Taranaki finished second from bottom in the Premiership last season while Tasman, were competing in the top division for the first time.

Taranaki led 16-10 at half-time and raced away to a 33-13 advantage before Tasman narrowed the gap in the closing stages.

New Zealand Maori captain Charlie Ngatai scored two tries for the champions, while Rhys Marshall also crossed the whitewash.

Tasman knocked out six-time defending champions Canterbury in the semi-finals but their fairy-tale run came to an end against Taranaki who beat Auckland to reach the title match.