17 Sep 2013

Magpies looking to go straight back up

8:13 am on 17 September 2013

Hawke's Bay are on top of provincial rugby's Championship after Sunday's come-from-behind 31-26 defeat of Northland in Napier.

The Magpies hold the whip hand in the race to the promotion playoffs by one point over Tasman, though the Makos have played a game less.

Counties Manukau easily defended the Ranfurly Shield for the first time, repelling challengers Taranaki 44-7 in Pukekohe. Waikato are next up on Saturday - win that and Counties then face just one more defence against Southland this season.

Wellington continue to lead the top-flight Premiership by five points from champions Canterbury, albeit having played one game more.