Waikato's surprise 28-38 loss to Northland on Friday allowed defending champions Tasman to reclaim the lead in the abbreviated Covid-19 affected competition.
Third-placed Hawke's Bay, who had the weekend off, next face Tasman in what shapes as a top Ranfurly Shield challenge next weekend.
Bay of Plenty lifted itself into a share of fourth place with Canterbury, who have a game in hand having also not played this weekend.
Wellington, who were on the receiving end of the loss to Bay of Plenty are in sixth position.
In the Championship, Manawatū stepped up to second place, five points behind Taranaki, on 13 points after their win over Otago.
Details from the weekend were:
Northland 38 Waikato 28
Waikato started with a hiss and a roar in Whangarei when a tap kick from an early penalty saw the ball moved to the right wing with a key offload from centre Mosese Dawai allowing Liam Coombes-Fabling to cross for a well-worked team try. But, that proved it in the first half for Waikato as Northland took over, first through wing Jone Macilai-Tori bullocking his way over for a try before centre Rene Ranger celebrated his 100th game with a trademark midfield break to have flanker Kara Pryor on hand to take his pass to score. Ranger picked off another breakdown turnover to set up wing Pisi Leilua's chance to run through the line and pass infield to halfback Sam Nock. First five-eighths Dan Hawkins wasn't to be left out landing a penalty goal to secure a 24-7 lead at halftime. Waikato responded with a length of the field try to flanker Mitch Jacobson. It wasn't enough, however, as second five-eighths Blake Hohaia ran a great line to open up Waikato's defence for a fine try. Two tries to Coombes-Fabling were bisected by a sin-binning for D'Angelo Leuila. Northland stayed calm with their three-point lead during the last five minutes and it was flanker Sam McNamara who caught Waikato napping when picking the ball from the base of a ruck to run 25m to score the winner.
Northland 38 (Jone Macilai-Tori, Kara Pryor, Sam Nock, Blake Hohaia, Sam McNamara tries; Dan Hawkins 5 con, pen) Waikato 28 (Liam Coombes-Fabling 3, Mitchell Jacobson tries; Fletcher Smith 4 con). HT: 24-7.
Bay of Plenty 33 Wellington 32
Steamers wing Alefosio Tapili looked like he was going to belie his team's sobriquet and run out of steam after intercepting a Wellington pass out from his line, but 80m downfield fullback Sekuini Tanimo was able to take his pass, step inside defenders and then feed back to Tapili for a try that summed up an exciting game. Wellington responded with hooker James O'Reilly scoring from a lineout maul. Six minutes from the break flanker James Sangster stood off to run back on the angle to score before wing Tomasi Alosio responded for Wellington on the end of a long pass from centre Vince Aso. Aso was active again early in the second half with a backhand pass that put replacement Aidan Morgan over. BOP were unbowed with wing Leroy Carter completing a superb team play with a try. Then replacement prop Pasilio Tosi took charge with a stunning 25m break to crash off four defenders to score. Wellington looked to have sealed the deal with three quick tries to replacements Sam Smith, Tyrone Thompson and Richard Judd and six minutes left. However, BOP hadn't read the script and centre Emoni Narawa took a gap, under advantage from a scrum, to score for first five-eighths Otere Black to kick the winning conversion.
Bay of Plenty 33 (Alefosio Tapili, Justin Sangster, Leroy Carter, Pasilio Tosi, Emoni Narawa tries; Otere Black 3 con; Luke Campbell con) Wellington 32 (James O'Reilly, Tomasi Alosio, Aidan Morgan, Sam Smith, Tyrone Thompson, Richard Judd tries; Ruben Love con). HT: 14-12
Manawatū 27 Otago 14
Manawatū had too much speed running onto the ball for an Otago team whose only scoring options came from its driving pack. No8 Brayden Iose gave his Manawatū side a superb start when his speedy midfield break provided wing Tima Fainga'anuku with a clear run to the line to open the scoring in Palmerston North. First five-eighths Brett Cameron slipped a grubber kick into Otago's 22m area and centre Josiah Maraku had time to wait for the ball to sit up to score. Otago's pack took charge with a long maul providing No8 Dylan Nel with a try by the posts. They had two more chances before the turn but couldn't grasp them. Continuing to benefit from playing at speed, Manawatū scored through prop Jarred Adams a minute into the second half. Otago scored another mauling try for flanker James Lentjes, but Manawatū were secure for the win.
Manawatū 27 (Tima Fainga'anuku, Josiah Maraku, Jarred Adams tries; Brent Cameron 3 con, 2 pen) Otago 14 (Dylan Nel, James Lentjes tries; Josh Ioane 2 con). HT: 17-7
Tasman 51 Southland 14
Southland appeared headed for a right royal thumping at Lansdowne Park in Blenheim on Sunday when down 7-39 at halftime to Tasman. The home team were on the board moments after the start with wing Timoci Tavatavanawai scoring the first of two tries two minutes into the game. Macca Springer, on the opposite wing followed within the first 10 minutes with a try of his own. Tasman continued to score at run-a-minute pace in the first 29 minutes before former Tasman player, the peripatetic first five-eighths Marty Banks scored and converted his own try. Southland scored first in the second half through wing Solomon Alaimalo and took the contest to Tasman with a much more competitive second half showing but poor defence in the first half had its impact while missed opportunities reduced their chances for a better scoreboard response.
Tasman 51 (Timoci Tavatavanawai 2, Macca Springer, Leicester Fainga'anuku 2, Levi Aumua, Regan Ware tries; Mitch Hunt 5 con, 2 pen) Southland 14 (Marty Banks, Solomon Alaimalo tries; Banks 2 con). HT: 39-7