The latest round of the Air New Zealand Rugby Cup once again provided plenty of closely contested battles as teams jostle for position heading towards the business end of the season.
Week nine of the championship kicked off with Southland travelling to the Capital to take on the inconsistent Wellington Lions.
However Wellington again showed why they should still make the semi's, beating the Stags 32-13 at Westpac Stadium in a game the Lions never looked like losing.
Despite the loss the Stags managed to hold on to second place on the ladder with the Lions moving into sixth position.
Friday saw North Harbour record just their third win of the season overcoming the bottom placed Counties-manukau 28-19 at Albany lifting them into 12th spot.
Taranaki lost to Waikato 15-14 in a dull but closely contested battle in New Plymouth. The win lifting the mooloo one place above Taranaki on the ladder with the teams lying in eight and ninth respectively.
Saturday hosted three games with Canterbury confirming their title favouritism with a tougher than expected 31-21 victory over Northland in Christchurch. The win firmly cements Canterbury at the top of the table and means the red and blacks hold on to the Ranfurly Shield for another few weeks. Northland drop one place to 13th.
Hawkes Bay just beat Manwatu 32-30 in Napier in what was probably the most entertaining match of the weekend, lifting the bay to third in the standings and dropping Manawatu to eleventh.
Otago showed some of their best form of so far this year to beat early competition front-runners Bay of Plenty 26-17 in Dunedin. Otago lie in tenth with the Steamers just clinging on to fourth spot.
And the final clash of the weekend saw Tasman shut down an under-performing Auckland side 12-8 in Nelson. The win moves the surprise package Makos into fifth place with Auckland dropping to seventh.