Counties-Manukau saw off Northland 40-24 on Sunday in a win that sees them move to within one point of the sought-after top seven.
Counties-Manukau saw off Northland 40-24 in an strong display on Sunday that sees them move within just one point of the ITM Cup top seven.
In what was a carbon copy of earlier events at North Harbour Stadium, the hosts were left looking over their shoulders after a strong start.
Northland were 7-27 down at the break courtesy of the try bonus-point being picked up thanks to a fifteen-minute score blitz from Fritz Lee, Simon Lemalu, Taiasina Tuifua and Sherwin Stowers.
However, the Steelers were made to sweat after the break as their visitors added to Rhyan Caine's first-half try with another five-pointer from the scrum-half before flank Dean Budd crossed to throw some doubt into Counties' minds.
But they held off the challenge and with it kept their top-seven hopes alive as an intercept try from Ahsee Tuala put the icing on the cake.
Tries: Lee, Lemalu, Tuifua, Stowers, Tuala
Con: Nanai-Williams 2, Cummins
Pen: Nanai-Williams 2, Cummins
Tries: Caine 2, Budd
Con: Munro 3
Counties-Manukau: 15 Tim Nanai-Williams, 14 David Raikuna, 13 Siale Piutau, 12 Tana Umaga, 11 Sherwin Stowers, 10 Dean Cummins, 9 August Pulu, 8 Viliami Fihaki, 7 Mark Selwyn/DJ Forbes, 6 Fritz Lee, 5 Jamie Chipman (c), 4 Taiasina Tuifua, 3 Jono Owen, 2 Grant Henson/Ilaisa Maasi, 1 Simon Lemalu.
Replacements: 16 Maasi or Mark Price, 17 Graham Dewes, 18 Ronald Raaymakers, 19 Forbes or Selwyn, 20 Samisoni Fisilau, 21 Reynold Lee-Lo, 22 Ahsee Tuala.
Northland: 15 Jared Payne (c), 14 Mateo Malupo, 13 Rene Ranger, 12 Aaron Bancroft, 11 Lachie Munro, 10 David Holwell, 9 Rhyan Caine, 8 Cameron Eyre, 7 Dan Pryor, 6 Dean Budd, 5 Mark Burman, 4 Pat O'Connor, 3 Bronson Murray, 2 Tim Dow, 1 Matt Wallis.
Replacements: 16 Mikaele Tuu'u, 17 Ross Wright, 18 Roy Griffin, 19 Cameron Goodhue, 20 Luke Hamilton, 21 Adam Clarke, 22 Simon Munro.
Referee: Chris Pollock