Two tries in the closing 14 minutes helped Auckland come from behind to beat Hawke’s Bay 25-24 at McLean Park in Napier on Wednesday.
The Magpies were leading 9-18 on the hour mark thanks to tries from Ihaia West and Mark Abbott, with West kicking a further eight points.
But the boot of Simon Hickey kept Auckland in touch as he kicked four penalties, the latter making it 12-18 with less than 20 minutes left.
Then came those two scores from replacement hooker Greg Pleasants-Tate and inside centre Vince Aso, which put Auckland 22-21 in front before fly-half West struck another three-pointer in a tight finish.
However, captain Hickey stepped up in the 76th minute for the match-winning penalty which he slotted to break Hawke’s Bay hearts.
For Hawke’s Bay:
Tries: West, Abbott
Pens: West 4
Tries: Pleasants-Tate, Aso
Pens: Hickey 5
Hawke’s Bay: 15 Ryan Tongia, 14 Robbie Fruean, 13 Jonah Lowe, 12 Tiaan Falcon, 11 Mason Emerson, 10 Ihaia West, 9 Brad Weber, 8 Fa’alemiga Selesele, 7 Tony Lamborn, 6 Trent Boswell-Wakefield, 5 Mark Abbott, 4 Geoff Cridge, 3 Ben May, 2 Ash Dixon (c), 1 Ricky Riccitelli
Replacements: 16 Jorian Tangaere, 17 Jason Long, 18 Tolu Fahamokioa, 19 Ross Filipo, 20 Ben Hamelink, 21 Chris Eaton, 22 Billy Ropiha, 23 Matt Garland
Auckland: 15 Tyrone Elkington-MacDonald, 14 Joe Ravouvou, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 Vince Aso, 11 Pryor Collier, 10 Simon Hickey (c), 9 Jono Hickey, 8 Joe Edwards, 7 Akira Ioane, 6 Liaki Moli, 5 Michael Fatialofa, 4 Scott Scrafton, 3 Marcel Renata, 2 Kurt Eklund, 1 Tom McHugh
Replacements: 16 Greg Pleasants-Tate, 17 Isi Tu’ungafasi, 18 James Lay, 19 Ben Nee Nee, 20 Taleni Seu, 21 Leon Fukofuka, 22 Latiume Fosita, 23 Pasqualle Dunn
Referee: Paul Williams