Auckland kept pace with Canterbury at the top of the Air New Zealand Cup with victory over Northland, while champions Waikato and last year’s beaten finalists Wellington also won on Saturday.
Auckland needed three penalties and two conversions from Isa Nacewa to ensure a 33-25 bonus-point victory over their northern rivals.
Kurtis Haiu, David Smith, Chris Heard and Brent Ward secured the bonus point, but the Taniwha failed to earn one, completing only three five-point scores, from David Holwell, Glen Martin and Tony Coughlan.
The Auks trail Canterbury on points difference, while Northland remain in touch of a play-off place.
Warren Gatland’s Waikato struck late to claim a 25-23 win at Tasman’s Lansdowne Park.
William Ripia converted Liam Messam’s 71st minute try to budge the visitors ahead, and James Foote could have claimed the Makos victory, but scooped his penalty wide of the mark.
In Wellington, the Lions thrashed North Harbour 39-14 to reclaim third place.
New Zealand rejects Ma’a Nonu and Piri Weepu led the rout, with Blues winger Rudi Wulf and youngster Michael Harris scoring for Harbour.