Taranaki was pushed hard by Manawatu on Sunday, and was held scoreless through the second half of their 26-17 win.
Canterbury also needed to dig deep to claim their 28-24 win over North Harbour at Onewa Domain.
The golden point scenario failed to produce a winner in Invercargill as Southland and Northland played out a 15-15 draw.
Jonah Mau'u may have been called in to start late for Northland on Wednesday, but he switched on quickly as he took the ball that rebounded after touching Taranaki fullback Stephen Perofeta's boot as he attempted an in-goal clearance to touch down for the opening try eight minutes into the game. But when wing Brady Rush was sin-binned for a deliberate knockdown, Taranaki took to the lineout maul, unconvincingly, before the ball was freed for the backs for Perofeta to score. A stolen lineout ball eight metres out saw prop Jared Proffit get low and get the ball down to give Taranaki a 14-10 lead at the break.
Northland attempted an intercept on the blindside only to see the ball fall to space, and it was flanker Kaylum Boshier who gained control of the untidy ball and forced his way to the line to score. Consistent ball retention through the middle stages of the half saw Boshier pick up a second try via good body possession and power to cross in tackles.
Northland 13 (Jonah Mau'u try; Dan Hawkins con, 2 pen) Taranaki 28 (Stephen Perofeta, Jared Proffit, Kaylum Boshier 2 tries; Josh Jacomb 3 con; Boshier con). HT: 10-14
The rugby gods can be heartless, as Counties Manukau learned in Pukekohe. Just needing to play out time after a 78th-minute penalty goal landed by first five-eighths, Riley Hohepa gave them a four-point lead against the fast-finishing Hawke's Bay, Counties Manukau infringed. Hawke's Bay kicked to the corner to mount the predictable lineout drive, only for the home team to collapse the maul, resulting in the awarding of a penalty try after the final hooter had sounded.
After being on the receiving end of some relentless but rarely fruitful Counties Manukau dominance, wing Etene Nanai-Seturo's startling try excepted, Hawke's Bay resorted to its bench where the introduction of Folau Fakatava at halfback, and Chase Tiatia in the outside backs, lifted their intensity with the two combining on the home goal-line to see Tiatia through a gap to get them back within touching distance. Earlier, No8 Hoskins Sotutu and flanker Sean Reidy rewarded the forward effort with a reply coming via Jacob Devery in a lineout maul which saw Counties Manukau to a halftime lead of 14-13.
Counties Manukau 24 (Hoskins Sotutu, Sean Reidy, Etene Nanai-Seturo tries; Riley Hohepa 3 con, pen) Hawke's Bay 25 (Jacob Devery, Chase Tiatia tries; Penalty try; Lincoln McClutchie con, 2 pen). HT: 14-13
Starting with a sin-binning for centre Melani Nanai was less costly than it might have been, and when restored to full strength, Bay of Plenty scored the first try of the game through wing Leroy Carter's speed. No8 Nikora Broughton made the most of a timely pass from first five-eighths Lucas Cashmore to run into space and then find halfback Te Toiro Tahuriorangi inside in support to give them the ball for the try and the halftime lead of 14-3.
Waikato gained their scoring momentum on the back of a decisive run by lock James Tucker who took the ball just short of the line. In the resulting action, the forwards had nibbles before it was moved wide, where wing Malachi Wrampling-Alec scored. But it was Bay of Plenty who scored next, a crucial score as it proved, with first five-eighths Lucas Cashmore rewarded for good work in each of his side's earlier tries by scoring. A clever run by Waikato's first five-eighths Taha Kemara was stopped short of the line, but in resulting play, second five-eighths Gideon Wrampling slipped a grubber kick into the goalmouth where centre Bailyn Sullivan secured the ball to score.
Bay of Plenty 19 (Leroy Carter, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Lucas Cashmore tries; Cashmore 2 con) Waikato 15 (Malachi Wrampling-Alec, Bailyn Sullivan tries; Taha Kemara con, pen). HT: 14-3
Relishing the calm, fast conditions at Forsyth Barr Stadium, Wellington put their teamwork to the task, creating a lovely first try by moving the ball to and fro across the field before hooker James O'Reilly received the ball in space on the right wing before flinging a long ball inside where No8 Peter Lakai was perfectly positioned to take the pass and score. Otago's defence denied them all but two penalty goals in the remainder of the half.
A breakout launched by second five-eighths Peter Umaga-Jensen put Wellington back on the attack after the break, and when replacement hooker Josh Southall showed his understanding with the ball in hand on the left flank, it set up a scoring chance for flanker Brad Shields to power his way over. Wellington's maul did the rest with flanker Du'Plessis Kirifi on hand to complete the try-scoring in the contest as Otago had to make do with a consolation try for replacement midfield back Jack Leslie.
Otago 5 (Jack Leslie try) Wellington 28 (Peter Lakai, Brad Shields, Du'Plessis Kirifi tries; Aidan Morgan 2 con 3 pen). HT: 0-13
Centre Levi Aumua set the tone for Tasman's win with a bullocking 22m run that saw off three tacklers to score the first try four minutes into their game in Blenheim. Aumua was in action again 10 minutes later when Tasman ran the ball from their 22m line. He fed second five-eighths Alex Nankivell into space. He kicked ahead, and wing Caleb Tangitau couldn't control the ball. Tasman secured it and launched a series of rucks before. Finally, it was No8 Tim Sail who got the ball over the line. A lineout win after 30 minutes saw the ball released, and when a pass from Nankivell went to the ground, the bounce favoured first five-eighths Taine Robinson who scored.
There was no miracle for Auckland as they attempted to return from a 0-19 halftime deficit. Replacement wing Salesi Rayasi cruised in for a try with half an hour to go, but Tasman's defence held them out for 20 minutes before replacement hooker Quentin MacDonald completed a 20-metre maul by scoring. Rayasi had more of a chance to show his evasion skills with his second try with seven minutes left, but Auckland couldn't get any closer.
Tasman 24 (Levi Aumua, Tim Sail, Taine Robinson, Quentin MacDonald tries; Robinson 2 con) Auckland 12 (Salesi Rayasi 2 tries; Zarn Sullivan con). HT: 19-0
Classic Canterbury efficiency produced the match-winning try with four minutes left in their game with North Harbour at Onewa Domain. In what was always a close game, Canterbury was down 13-19 at halftime after the home team scored first through halfback Jamie Booth and then boosted their points through first five-eighths Oscar Koller's boot in landing three penalty goals. Fullback Chay Fihaki scored for Canterbury with first five-eighths Fergus Burke kicking a conversion and two penalty goals.
They went tit for tat in the second half, hard-working lock Dominic Gardiner scoring in the 50th minute, then centre Dallas McLeod scored five minutes later to claim the lead at 23-19. Home No8 Lotu Inisi burst off a scrum and into space to regain the lead for North Harbour with 15 minutes left. McLeod helped Canterbury out of their half with some fine play in working a shift with flanker Tom Christie. McLeod shaped again in subsequent play and produced the offload, which allowed Grace in for the winner.
North Harbour 24 (Jamie Booth, Lotu Inisi tries; Oscar Koller con, 4 pen) Canterbury 28 (Chay Fihaki, Dominic Gardiner, Dallas McLeod, Cullen Grace tries; Fergus Burke con, 2 pen). HT: 13-19
Having fought their way back with a superb wing's try in the corner for Heremaia Murray, his second of the game, Northland forced golden point to be contested in Invercargill. But neither side could draw a penalty chance for a goal or get into an ideal position for a dropped goal attempt. Replacement Southland's first five-eighths Greg Dyer had the sole chance, but his kick was well wide.
Southland led 9-3 at the break courtesy of first five-eighths Marty Banks' three penalty goals. He added another in the second half before Northland finally gave Murray a chance in the third quarter and then gave him the equaliser, scoring with a well-time dive at the corner to evade the tackle. Southland's scrum was impressive in the latter stages, but the same couldn't be said for its lineout, while Northland's tenacity dug them out of a hole.
Southland 15 (Marty Banks 4 pen, Greg Dyer pen) Northland 15 (Heremaia Murray 2 tries; Rivez Reihana con, pen). HT: 9-3. FT: 15-15
Lapses under pressure in the second quarter cost Manawatu dearly. Still, they did respond well to a 23-point halftime deficit to deny Taranaki scoring chances in the second half while adding 14 points. Taranaki posted their four tries in the second quarter to lock Jesse Parete, fullback Matt McKenzie and hard-working centre Meihana Grindlay with a penalty try awarded for bringing a maul down.
Manawatu used greater defensive attention in the second half to pressure the visitors. Heading into the final quarter, a tap penalty out from the line produced a try for replacement prop Flyn Yates. When hooker Bradley Slater was sin-binned two minutes from the end, another tap penalty for Manawatu needed a repeat effort, and at their second attempt, it was No8 Brayden Iose who scored.
Manawatu 17 (Flyn Yates, Brayden Iose tries; Brett Cameron con, pen; Isaiah Armstrong-Ravula con) Taranaki 26 (Jesse Parete, Matt McKenzie, Meihana Grindlay tries; Penalty try; Jayson Potroz 2 con). HT: 3-26
Hawke's Bay and Waikato play the final game of round 2 at 5.35pm on Wednesday 16 August at McLean Park, Napier, live on Sky Sport NZ.