Marist sent shock waves through NPD Tasman Trophy competition on Saturday after upsetting Nelson 20-17 at Neale Park.
The loss sees Waimea Old Boys leapfrog Nelson to the top of the table, after their fourth win of the season.
After three comfortable victories, the unbeaten Nelson faced their toughest task to date as they met Marist in what was a see-sawing slug-fest.
The visitors opened the scoring through the boot of Taine Robinson as both teams played cautious footy in the early exchanges.
Willy Havili continued his stellar season, slicing through untouched and converting his own try to take a 7-3 lead soon after.
Nelson crossed again before the break to take a 12-3 lead at half time.
Marist started strongly in the second, Isaac Laga streaking down the left-hand flank to bring his side within four.
In a reversal of fortunes, Marist had all the share of territory in the second half as they hammered away at the Nelson defence.
The green machine soon hit the front after replacement Cleve Barrell carried three Nelson defenders over the line.
Momentum once again shifted, and Nelson’s forwards started to impose themselves on a tiring Marist defence, Kershaw Sykes-Martin barging his way over from close range to put his side back in front, to the relief of the home fans.
However, another twist was to follow soon after.
After a sustained period of attack, Marist again reclaimed the lead after centre Liam Boshoff scored under the posts to put his side ahead 20-17 with just over five to play. Marist managed to retain possession in the final minute and hold on to cause the first major upset of the season.
Marist captain Tyler says the win proved that they can beat anyone on their day. “We are ecstatic, the boys are pumped after that.”
Nelson coach Kade Heke says he was disappointed with the loss.
“Marist just didn’t let us settle and we didn’t really fire a shot today.”
In other results, Waimea Old Boys remain the only unbeaten side in the Nelson sub union competition after beating Wanderers 25-8 at Brightwater.
Stoke registered their second win of the season, defeating Kahurangi 29-19 at Greenmeadows.
In Marlborough, East Coast showed their win over Central last weekend was no fluke by tipping over the unbeaten Renwick side 37-19 win at the Renwick Domain.
While Waitohi got up in the last minute to score a 35-30 win over the luckless Central, who slumped to their fourth defeat and look to have dropped out of sub-union semi-final contention.
Scorers: Marist 20 (Isaac Laga, Cleve Barrell, Liam Boshoff tries, James Hawkey 1 con, Taine Robinson 1 pen).
Nelson 17 (Willy Havili, Willis Scott, Kershaw Sykes-Martin tries, Havili 1 con).
Stoke 29 (Anty Burnett, Jack Grooby, Charlie Chambers, Rupena Parkinson, Isei Lewaqai tries; Grooby 2 con).
Kahurangi 19 (Miro Mitchell, Conor Kerins, Stephen Hughes tries; Kerins 2 con).
Waimea Old Boys 25 (Ropati Matangi, Kaide Whiting, Mio Tau tries, James Lash 2 con, 2 pen).
Wanderers 8 (Fletcher Mathews try, Jayden Woolley pen).
East Coast 37 (Sam Houston, Myles Hamilton, Billy Collins, Seymour Lambert, penalty try, Hamilton pen, Heath Forsyth pen, 1 con).
Renwick 19 (Atu Taufa, Quinn Harrison-Jones, Josh Holdaway tries, Kurt Schollum 2 con).
Waitohi 35 (Taimi Fangatua, Vake Makoni, Fetuli Paea, Stefan Roguski, Ray Niuia tries, Corey Bovey 5 cons)
Central 30 (Ra Tamati, Fo’ou Tuieti, Nigel Satherley, Robbie Malneek tries, Mitch Smith 2 pen, 2 con).