Northland beat Taranaki 26-19 in New Plymouth in the opening match of the NPC rugby series.
The visitors scored three tries to one, although two of them came from intercept passes.
Taranaki led 19-18 at half-time.
2009 champions Canterbury play Hawke's Bay on Friday night, in a repeat of last year's semi-final.
Also of interest during the competition will be the Ranfurly Shield.
Current holders Southland defend it against Otago in round two.