Hawkes Bay have successfully defended the Ranfurly Shield, dispatching Bay of Plenty 36-17 in Napier to set up a Shield defence against struggling Wellington.
Hawkes Bay ran in five tries to two to see off their second shield challenge, with the competition's leading tryscorer, the Magpies wing Ryan Tongia, dotting down twice to take his season tally to eight.
Wellington will next challenge for the shield at McLean Park on Wednesday October the 1st.
The six-time defending champions Canterbury made it six victories from six games on Friday night in Pukekohe, but Counties Manukau gave their visitors a real battle before losing 28-20.
Down 20-6 at half-time as Canterbury scored two tries to none, Counties rallied to score two second-half tries of their own and push the six-time defending champions all the way.
But while the scoreline was respectable after Canterbury had averaged almost 45 points a game before Friday, the result wasn't any different and they now top the table from Taranaki by a point, having played one less game.
Counties remain second-bottom with one victory from six games, seven points above winless Wellington.