Manawatu enjoyed a late surge to victory as they held off Northland to win their 2016 Mitre 10 Cup opener 34-27.
In a battle of Championship sides in Whangarei, a visiting romp looked on the cards when Manawatu opened up a 17-point lead – Ngani Laumape opening the scores before captain Heiden Bedwell-Curtis executed a fine dummy pass to race through.
The hosts roared back, though, and were incredibly ahead at the interval thanks to three tries of their own in the space of just nine minutes as Manawatu paid the price for Hamish Northcott's yellow card.
Michael Faleafa crossed twice in that spell and Warren Dunn also touched down, while Jack Ram kept up the tempo after the break before Manwatu were inspired to a comeback by substitute fly-half Otere Black.
They drew level as Black's accurate kick put Ambrose Curtis in on the right before the 21-year-old added the extras and Jason Emery was the hero of the piece, bundling over with four minutes to play to secure the victory.