Earlier in the weekend, the golden point finally arrived on the New Zealand rugby scene and it was Canterbury who benefited when breaking a 26-26 deadlock to beat Wellington 31-26 in Christchurch on Saturday.
It was a vital win for the home team as they were in danger of losing three in a row. But they got themselves back in the playoffs hunt, albeit with an intercept try to shut Wellington down.
But the competition received a significant upset result when North Harbour achieved their first win of the season in the best possible fashion by defeating the competition leaders Tasman 40-24 in Albany.
Mitre 10 Cup Round 4
Bay of Plenty v Auckland
Wing Salesi Rayasi proved crucial to Auckland surviving a tough night out in Rotorua on Friday to open the fourth round of action. In a game dominated by defence and goal-kicking, his try-scoring instinct helped Auckland to a 17-9 lead by halftime. Bay of Plenty responded through back replacement Leroy Carter scoring in the 53rd minute to get his side within a point with 27 minutes of the game left. Both teams attempted to probe for the winning advantage but what proved crucial was replacement five-eighths' Harry Plummer's 57th minute penalty goal. The Bay tried but the Auckland defence was resolute and any chances were quickly shut down.
Bay of Plenty 16 (Leroy Carter try; Otere Black con, 3 pen) Auckland 20 (Salesi Rayasi 2 tries; Simon Hickey 2 con, pen; Harry Plummer pen). HT: 9-17
Counties Manukau v Manawatu
Counties Manukau secured their first win of the Championship but they made heavy work of it as Manawatu set the pace through the first three-quarters of the game with flanker Seamus Hurley-Langton and James Tofa opening the scoring with two impressive tries. But Counties Manukau had their own hay-burning flanker in Alamanda Motuga, who followed his first half try with two within a few minutes of each other midway through the second half to give what proved Counties Manukau's winning advantage. That was supplemented by a fine driving run along the sideline by right wing Kirisi Kuridrani which give his side an 11-point buffer heading into the final 10 minutes.
Counties Manukau 36 (Alamanda Motuga 3, Orbyn Leger, Kirisi Kuridrani tries; Baden Kerr con, pen; Jason Robertson 3 con). Manawatu 30 (Seamus Hurley-Langton, James Tofa, Kyle Stewart, Te Rangatira Waitokia, Drew Wild tries; Ben Wyness con, pen). HT: 12-20
Northland v Taranaki
Home team Northland finished the game with 13 men as first five-eighths Stephen Perofeta and replacement forward Rob Rush were sin-binned for repeat offences, but fortunately Northland had done the hard work with wing Scott Gregory and wing Jone Macilai having try rewards for some individual class, Gregory with a chip ahead and support play and Macilai with power of his fend and strength close to the line, while lock Josh Goodhue and flanker Kara Pryor finished off more traditional play with tries that had Northland out to a 35-18 lead when losing their sin-binned players. Added to that was consistent goal-kicking from first five-eighths Dan Hawkins who landed 15 points.
Northland 35 (Scott Gregory, Josh Goodhue, Jone Macilai, Kara Pryor tries; Dan Hawkins 3 con, 3 pen) Taranaki 25 (Daniel Waite, Jayson Potroz, Jacob Raumaitayuki-Kneepkens tries; Potroz 2 con, 2 pen). HT: 15-7
Canterbury v Wellington
Replacement wing Isaiah Punivai suffered the mortification of dropping the Wellington kickoff as the sides went to extra time and it appeared that might have been the losing of the game. Flanker Tom Christie scored the 76th minute try to level the scores after Wellington had come back strongly from 12-18 down at halftime. Wellington looked to extract maximum advantage from Punivai's mistake, setting themselves up for a dropped goal attempt by Jackson Garden-Bachop. But it missed. But in attempting to run the 22m restart back at Canterbury, Garden-Bachop threw a pass that allowed near instant redemption for Punivai who raced 60m to clinch the winner by way of an intercept. It was doubly frustrating for Wellington who had done so much work in getting into a good position to take the win.
Canterbury 31 (Mitch Drummond, Ngatungane Punivai, Tom Christie, Isaiah Punivai tries; Fergus Burke con, 3 pen) Wellington 26 (Vince Aso, Naitoa Ah Kuoi, Tyrone Thompson, Peter Umaga-Jensen tries; Jackson Garden-Bachop 3 con). HT: 18-12. FT: 26-26 (Golden Point)
North Harbour v Tasman
Not even two intercept tries scored by Tasman wing Mark Telea and halfback Finlay Christie, could put the North Harbour pack off their game, and their first win, when beating the defending champions Tasman 40-24 in Albany. Applied forward pressure, through their scrum and driving maul, put pressure on the visitors who were also guilty of infringing too often within range of one of the better kicking boots in the competition belonging to Harbour first five-eighths Bryn Gatland. Samuel Matenga and Isaac Salmon were sent to the sin-bin within four minutes of each other, during which time they scored through Christie. But North Harbour sensed their chance and retained the focus for the win.
North Harbour 40 (Jared Page, Luteru Tolai, James Little, Teague McElroy tries; Bryn Gatland 4 con, 4 pen) Tasman 24 (Mark Telea, Finlay Christie, David Havili tries; Mitch Hunt 3 con, pen). HT: 16-10
Southland v Waikato
With rain falling for much of the second half this became an old-fashioned slug fest decided by penalty goals. Southland kicked three of them, but the only try of the contest went to Waikato when Liam Coombes-Fabling got up and scored after a Fletcher Smith cross-kick. The replacement first five-eighths landed the conversion to put Waikato one point in front after home first-five Greg Dyer landed two penalty goals. Replacement Scott Eade added another before just out from the end Smith got a wobbly dropped goal over to reclaim the one point lead. Eade had a late chance for a dropped goal of his own but it flew wide and Waikato capped their trip with a win that lifted them to third place on the Premiership table.
Southland 9 (Greg Dyer 2 pen; Scott Eade pen) Waikato 10 (Liam Coombes-Fabling try; Fletcher Smith con, dropped goal). HT: 3-0
Otago v Hawke's Bay
Unable to score a try, and committing too many unforced errors, Otago joined the list of one-week tenures of the Ranfurly Shield when Hawke's Bay repeated what they did when ending Otago's 2013 tenure. It was a one-point 19-18 win then but much more convincing 28-9 win this time around. Hawke's Bay took a long time to settle into their game but once they did they struck with a superb opening try which swept 60-70 metres downfield with inter-passing ending with wing Lolagi Visinia scoring in the corner. Halfback Folau Fakatava backed that up early in the second half with a sniping solo try before lock Isaiah Walker-Leawere and fullback Kurt Baker crossed to ensure the Shield would head back over Cook Strait for the third time in three weeks. Otago also lost flanker Slade McDowall eight minutes from the end when he was sent off for a dangerous tackle. Hawke's Bay will have their first defence against Northland in round six. Otago dropped to fourth place on the Championship ladder as a result of the loss.
Otago 9 (Josh Ioane 3 pen) Hawke's Bay 28 (Lolagi Visinia, Folau Fakatava, Isaiah Walker-Leawere, Kurt Baker tries; Lincoln McClutchie 2 con; Caleb Makene 2 con). HT: 6-7