Manawatu have beaten Counties Manukau 36-31 in their Air New Zealand Cup rugby match in Palmerston North.
In a battle of last year's bottom two sides, Counties looked set for a big win as they held a 12 point lead midway through the second half, but the homeside scored 2 converted tries in the last 10 minutes.
Counties-Manukau scored 5 tries to 4, but the Manawatu first five eighth Aaron Cruden kicked 16 points.
Earlier in the opening round Taranaki beat Tasman 21-9, Wellington beat Otago 23-19, Bay of Plenty beat Northland 19-14, Hawkes Bay beat Auckland 47-13, North Harbour beat Canterbury 22-19 and Southland beat Waikato 16-6.
In the feature games next weekend Otago play Southland, Hawkes Bay play Wellington and Auckland play Canterbury.