Southland's beaten Hawkes Bay 23-20 in Napier to stay on top of rugby's provincial championship after four rounds,
The Ranfurly Shield holders led 14-12 at half-time, with each side scoring two tries, and stayed in front with penalty goals from first-five Robbie Robinson.
A late try to the All Black wing Zac Guildford gave Hawkes Bay a chance of snatching their first win, with Southland down to 14 men for a professional foul.
But the Stags' defence held, leaving them on 17 points, two clear of Counties-Manukau, who're one ahead of Auckland, Taranaki and Wellington ,
Earlier Auckland beat Northland 26-13 at Eden Park, scoring two tries to one after leading 9-3 at half-time in a match marred by turnovers and dropped passes,