Auckland were plunged deeper into relegation trouble when they went down 32-27 to Canterbury in the final round of Mitre 10 regular-season action.
Now Auckland have to await the outcome of the Bay of Plenty versus Waikato game to learn their possible fate.
Braydon Ennor gave Canterbury the lead with a try converted by Richie Mo'unga before Vince Aso responded with a try for the hosts, converted by Jono Hickey to level matters up at 7-7 after 12 minutes.
However, seven minutes later Auckland lock Ben Nee-Nee was yellow-carded as Canterbury immediately capitalised on their numerical advantage with a try from Caleb Makene. Mo'unga missed the conversion. Hickey didn't make any such mistakes with his goal-kicking as his two penalties gave the hosts a slender 13-12 half-time lead.
The to-and-fro-nature of the game continued as the sides exhanged converted tries as Jack Stratton dotted down for Canterbury while Joe Ravouvou almost got Auckland back on level terms with the hosts trailing by the one point with 55 minutes gone.
Stratton then grabbed his brace for Canterbury but Auckland hit back once again with a try from Tinoai Faiane after Canterbury centre Inga Finau was yellow-carded.
But Canterbury held on to the five-point lead to run out 32-27 winners.
Tries: Aso, Ravouvou, Faiane
Cons: Hickey 2, Plummer
Pens: Hickey 2
Yellow Card: Nee-Nee
Tries: Ennor, Makene, Stratton 2
Cons: Mo'unga 3
Pens: Mo'unga 2
Yellow Card: Finau
Auckland: 15 Melani Nanai, 14 Vince Aso, 13 George Moala, 12 TJ Faiane, 11 Joe Ravouvou, 10 Harry Plummer, 9 Jono Hickey, 8 Akira Ioane, 7 Blake Gibson, 6 Taleni Seu, 5 Ben Nee-Nee, 4 Samuel Slade, 3 Marcel Renata, 2 Greg Pleasants-Tate, 1 Sam Prattley
Replacements: 16 Kurt Eklund, 17 Isi Tu’ungafasi, 18 Dexter Fa’amoana, 19 Hoskins Sotutu, 20 Dalton Papali’i, 21 Nico Costa, 22 Jordan Trainor, 23 Tyrone Elkington-MacDonald
Canterbury: 15 Caleb Makene, 14 Josh McKay, 13 Tim Bateman, 12 Inga Finau, 11 Braydon Ennor, 10 Richie Mo'unga, 9 Ere Enari, 8 Luke Whitelock (c), 7 Billy Harmon, 6 Tom Sanders, 5 Dominic Bird, 4 Hamish Dalzell, 3 Oliver Jager, 2 Nathan Vella, 1 Chris Gawler
Replacements: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Alex Hodgman, 18 Siate Tokolahi, 19 Mitchell Dunshea, 20 Reed Prinsep, 21 Jack Stratton, 22 Brett Cameron, 23 Marshall Suckling
Referee: Brendon Pickerill