Auckland took Northland 26-13 in Auckland on Sunday in the ITM Cup, their third win out of four matches.
The home side was brutally physical in their approach, dominating the breakdown and working out a string of penalties for Mat Berquist to land. Northland, off the back of a 77-8 crushing of Manawatu, were blunted by the lack of possession. For Auckland, openside Daniel Braid was particularly prominent. Northland ended up making over 100 tackles.
Auckland led 9-3 at the break, with Berquist landing three penalties to one from Lachie Munro.
But when prop Pauliasi Manu burrowed over the try-line from a ruck on the line, Auckland held the 16-3 lead their superiority deserved.
Munro narrowed the gap, but scrum-half Toby Morland gave Auckland back an even bigger lead, scrapping his way though a couple of tackles.
But Northland were not easily silenced, as they showed by scoring a try of their own minutes later to stay in the contest. It went to hooker Mikaele Tuu'u, who accepted a wide pass near the right-hand touchline and had enough pace to reach the line.
Berquist's fourth penalty in the 62nd minute lifted his personal haul to 16 points and gave Auckland a 13-point buffer, which Northland could not narrow.
Tries: Manu, Morland
Cons: Berquist 2
Pens: Berquist 4
Pens: Munro 2
Auckland: 15 Brent Ward, 14 Atieli Pakalani, 13 Ben Atiga, 2 Jamie Helleur, 11 Dave Thomas, 10 Matt Berquist, 9 Brenton Helleur; 8 Peter Saili, 7 Daniel Braid (c), 6 Onosa'i Auva'a, 5 Andrew van der Heijden, 4 Kurtis Haiu, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 Ash Dixon, 1 Pauliasi Manu.
Replacements: 16 Tom McCartney, 17 Tevita Mailau, 18 Liaki Moli, 19 Chris Lowrey, 20 Toby Morland, 21 Ash Moeke, 22 Charles Piutau.
Northland: 15 Lachie Munro, 14 Iwi Hauraki, 13 Jared Payne (c), 12 Aaron Bancroft, 11 Bryce Heem, 10 David Holwell, 9 Luke Hamilton, 8 Cameron Eyre, 7 Dan Pryor, 6 Dean Budd, 5 Mark Burman, 4 Pat O'Connor, 3 Bronson Murray, 2 Mikaele Tuu'u, 1 Matt Wallis.
Replacements: 16 Tim Dow, 17 Ross Wright, 18 Roy Griffin, 19 Cameron Goodhue, 20 Rhyan Caine, 21 Adam Clarke, 22 Mateo Malupo.
Referee: Glenn Newman