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McKenzie boots Taranaki to nail-biting win

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 14/09/2016

Mitchell Graham of Taranaki celebrates with teammates after winning the round five Mitre 10 Cup match between Counties Manukau and Taranaki. © Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images Mitchell Graham of Taranaki celebrates with teammates after winning the round five Mitre 10 Cup match between Counties Manukau and Taranaki. The pinpoint boot of Taranaki first five-eighth Marty McKenzie has carried Taranaki to a 30-29 NPC win over luckless Counties-Manukau in Pukekohe.

The hosts had a chance to steal victory after the final hooter but replacement back Joe Reynolds pushed a penalty shot wide from nearly straight in front.

It consigned his team to their second one-point loss in the space of five days after suffering the same fate against Wellington.

Taranaki's win in the all-Premiership clash was their fourth from five games to climb to second place provisionally.

Counties-Manukau suffered a third loss to remain fifth, a hard result to take after out-scoring the visitors four tries to three.

McKenzie's boot was decisive, racking up 15 points as well as creating a first-half try to impressive fullback Stephen Perofeta.

Taranaki were 20-7 clear at the break, having also crossed through centre Sean Wainui while winger Sione Molia crossed for Counties-Manukau.

The home side's fightback was built around flanker Jordan Taufua, who barged across for his fifth try of the season and then set winger Sherwin Stowers up for a long-range score with a neat offload.

Reserve halfback Richard Judd put Counties-Manukau ahead for the first time in the 68th minute, but Taranaki captain Richard Crosswell restored order shortly afterwards.

Reynolds' successful 73rd-minute penalty was then cancelled out by McKenzie with a decisive shot four minutes from the end.

It is a busy week for both teams.

Counties Manukau are away to Auckland on Sunday while Taranaki challenge Waikato for the Ranfurly Shield on the same day.

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