Southland made it four from four in the ITM Cup on Sunday with a narrow 23-20 win over Hawke's Bay at McLean Park.
The home side scored more tries but fell foul of kicking yips from Dan Kirkpatrick, who could land only two from five. By contrast, Robbie Robinson landed all five of his shots.
Bay opened the scoring after just three minutes with a try from wing Sinoti Sinoti, feeding off a pass after a break by Andrew Horrell. Kirkpatrick missed the extras and a subsequent penalty as rain turned the game briefly into a farce.
But Southland bounced back with a try from wing Pehi Te Whare, initiated by an angled run by Matt Saunders.
Hawke's Bay immediately struck back from the restart, forcing turnover ball and with Hike Elliot surging down the right before the ball was moved all the way left to Bryn Evans for the score. This time Kirkpatrick landed the kick.
The Bay kept the pressure up, but Kirkpatrick missed another penalty as Southland creaked, with Tim Boys yellow-carded for a high tackle.
But Southland broke just before the break to take an ill-deserved half-time lead after Robinson broke from within his own 22 and wing Tony Koonwaiyou carried on the move and his kick ahead was claimed by Saunders. Robinson kicked the sideline conversion to give the visitors the half-time lead at 14-12.
Robinson stretched the lead to five points with a 44m penalty kick in the 45th minute, but the Bay made most of the play for the next 10 minutes without any reward against a resolute Southland defence. Robinson stretched the lead still further with 20 to go.
Kirkpatrick closed the gap to five with a well-struck 38m penalty kick in the 67th minute, but the home team was getting little joy from referee Matt Stanish and Robinson kicked his third penalty from in front with 10 minutes remaining.
Hawke's Bay desperately chased a bonus point in the dying minutes and strung together some stirring attacks with Te Whare sinbinned after 76 minutes for a professional foul.
Hawke's Bay wing Zac Guildford went across in the corner a minute from time after Bay took a scrum instead of a penalty, but Kirkpatrick's sideline conversion bounced wide off an upright to complete a miserable day.
For Hawke's Bay:
Tries: Sinoti, Evans, Guildford
Tries: Te Whare, Saunders
Cons: Robinson 2
Pens: Robinson 3
Referee: Matthew Stanish