A second-half blitz inspired by an imperious Stephen Bennett saw Waterford retain top billing in Division 1 Group B and remain firmly in contention for a fourth Allianz Hurling League title.

Before a 5,865-strong gate, Liam Cahill's men looked stronger, faster and hungrier than a Tipperary side whose challenge significantly diminished heading into the final quarter.

An end-to-end first half featuring 28 scores saw Waterford go in two points to the good, leading by 1-13 to 0-14, with Kieran Bennett opening the scoring after 15 seconds.

But Tipperary, with the wind in their favour, soon took up the running, with Jason Forde and Michael Breen both pointing twice, in addition to a single from Mark Kehoe to go four clear by the seventh minute.

Stephen Bennett’s free reduced the arrears in the 10th minute with Tipp’s Barry Heffernan next to score on the quarter hour mark.

Mark Kehoe brilliantly killed another high ball after 16 minutes to extend Tipp’s lead only for the onrushing Iarlaith Daly to immediately point from Waterford’s next attack.

Ronan Maher tries to halt Patrick Curran

Points from Jake Morris and Mark Kehoe left Tipperary in a commanding position after 20 minutes, leading by six points, but that was to prove as good as it got for the visitors.

Stephen Bennett offered an instant reply from Waterford’s next attack and had Barry Hogan’s net billowing 60 seconds later following a fine move involving Michael Kiely and Patrick Curran.

Barely a minute later, Curran was next to point and Stephen Bennett’s 25th minute free restored parity. Bennett tagged on another free after 26, rapidly followed by a fine Jack Prendergast effort down the right flank as Tipp’s momentum ground to a halt.

Bennett landed another free just shy of the half-hour mark to send the hosts a goal clear. But Tipperary rallied with points from Conor Bowe and Jason Forde before Prendergast and the advancing Tadhg de Búrca raised white flags for the Déise at the City End (1-11 to 0-13).

Stephen Bennett, arguably in the form of his life, rifled over a glorious point from wide on the left to send the home support into raptures.

Tipp skipper Ronan Maher, similar to de Búrca, landed a brilliant point from the halfway line in the first additional minute, with Michael Kiely completing the first half scoring following excellent work by Patrick Curran and Cian Wadding.

Whatever competitive fire and brimstone there was in the opening half soon fizzled out upon the resumption, and while Waterford clearly kept the foot down, Tipperary struggled to move through the gears.

Points from Jason Forde (a free) and Mark Kehoe brought the sides level for the last time after 39 minutes but the closing half hour belonged to Liam Cahill’s men.

Stephen Bennett scored a whopping tally of 1-16

Stephen Bennett, who would ultimately tally 1-16, opened the second half scoring, converted two further frees, followed by another Jack Prendergast point after 43 minutes.

Michael Breen’s point somewhat stemmed the tide but Waterford’s gallop ultimately proved impossible to break. Bennett landed a 65 on in the 45th minute, with Iarlaith Daly firing over his second of the day three minutes later.

Tipp made their last flourish of note between the 49th and 51st minutes through a brace of Jason Forde frees and a fine effort by Conor Bowe before Waterford took command, with Stephen Bennett’s couplet of frees leaving them a goal clear after 53.

This was the opening point of a 10-score sequence which put Waterford in command, including a fine effort by Mikey Mahony on the day the All-Ireland winning Ballygunner complement returned to the fold.

Ronan Maher’s stoppage-time free proved the final score of an afternoon when Waterford’s all-round game produced an edge alarmingly lacking from a Tipperary perspective.

These sides will meet here again in the Munster Championship six weeks from today, a match they will head into as the firmest of favourites.

Waterford: S O’Brien; C Gleeson, C Prunty, S McNulty; J Fagan, T de Búrca (0-01), I Daly (0-02); C Wadding, D Lyons; N Montgomery, P Curran (0-03), K Bennett (0-01); Stephen Bennett (1-16; 11f, 1 65), M Kiely (0-01), J Prendergast (0-03).

Subs used: M Mahoney (0-01) for M Kiely (55), Shane Bennett for K Bennett (55), P Mahoney for C Prunty (63) C Dalton for J Fagan (70), B Power for J Prendergast (70).

Tipperary: B Hogan; C Barrett, J Quigley, B McGrath (0-01); D Quirke, R Maher (0-02; 1f), R Byrne; P Cadell, B Heffernan (0-01); C Bowe (0-02); J Forde (0-06; 4f), M Breen (0-04); M Kehoe (0-04), J McGrath, J Morris (0-01).

Subs used: A Flynn for P Cadell (HT), D Maher for J McGrath (54), C Stakelum for J Forde (68), C Darcy for D Quirke (72).

Referee: Colm Lyons (Cork)