A new-look Waikato side launched a stunning fightback to beat Counties Manukau 32-28 in a topsy-turvy national provincial championship match in Pukekohe on Saturday.
Having rested the bulk of the team who lifted the Ranfurly Shield off Taranaki on Wednesday, Waikato looked set to pay the price as they trailed 25-10 with 20 minutes remaining.
Two tries to standout centre Save Tokula pulled them to within three points before lock Anthony Wise barrelled over three minutes from time to complete a classic finish.
Having looked in danger of relegation from the Premiership division, fifth-placed Waikato have won their last three games and victory in the Shield defence against Hawke's Bay next weekend could yet steal a semi-final berth.
Counties Manukau have lost two on the trot but are still perched on top of the second-tier Championship division although Otago have closed to within three points.
The hosts will be kicking themselves after having shot clear when outstanding second five-eighth Bundee Aki showed electric speed to cross for his second try in the 58th minute.
Earlier, his side had trailed just 10-8 after playing into the wind in the first half and they continued to dominate most facets through the third quarter of the match.
Poor handling and a malfunctioning lineout prevented Counties Manukau from scoring more than four tries and fullback Tim Nanai-Williams' failure to match the goalkicking accuracy of Waikato opposite Trent Renata ultimately proved decisive.
While he had a sharp attacking game, Nanai-Williams was also at fault ahead of Wise's match-clinching try when he had a clearing kick charged down.