Southland remain the only unbeaten team in the 2010 ITM Cup after grounding out a hard-fought 21-16 win over Tasman in Blenheim on Friday.
Robbie Robinson kicked seven penalty goals from eight attempts as the Stags won their fifth consecutive game to stay at the top of the competition.
The Makos didn't leave their home ground empty-handed though after securing a losing bonus point for finishing within seven.
After being held to 6-6 at half-time, the number of Tasman breakdown infringements grew in the second half and Robinson did not require a second invitation to efficiently kick his side to victory.
Tries were not to be sighted in the first spell as Tasman scrum-half Steve Alfeld and Robinson traded two penalties apiece, with both teams reliant on tight defence to nullify any threats.
Southland scored first in the second spell, Robinson kicking his third penalty when Fai Mika was penalised for a high tackle. The Stags' pivot doubled the visitors' advantage with his fourth just before the game entered the final quarter.
Down 12-6, Tasman began to launch all-out attacks and it was only desperate defence by the visitors which kept their line intact.
Southland's defensive screens were finally broken down in the closing minutes when replacement back Blair Cook charged on to a short pass before the match ended with more penalties.
Robinson's last and another to his Tasman opposite James Marshall in the 82nd minute which earned his team a bonus point.
Con: J. Marshall
Pens: Alfeld 2, J. Marshall
Pens: Robinson 7
Tasman: 15 Robbie Malneek, 14 Afeleki Pelenise, 13 Kade Poki, 12 Tom Marshall, 11 James Kamana, 10 James Marshall, 9 Steve Alfeld, 8 Joe Wheeler, 7 Jonathan Poff, 6 Glen Gregory, 5 Chris Jack (c), 4 Ben Coman, 3 Fai Mika, 2 Francis Smith, 1 Sam Prattley.
Replacements: 16 Vernon Fredericks, 17 Hamish Cochrane, 18 Poutasi Luafutu, 19 Shane Christie, 20 Kaide Whiting, 21 Sione Holani, 22 Blair Cook.
Southland: 15 Glen Horton, 14 Tony Koonwaiyou, 13 Kendrick Lynn, 12 Matt Saunders, 11 Mark Wells, 10 Robbie Robinson, 9 Scott Cowan, 8 Elliot Dixon, 7 Tim Boys, 6 John Hardie, 5 Joe Tuineau, 4 Josh Bekhuis, 3 Chris King, 2 Jason Rutledge, 1 Jamie Mackintosh (c).
Replacements:16 Brayden Mitchell, 17 Nic Barrett, 18 Kane Thompson, 19 Dion Bates, 20 Nick Annear, 21 Seminar Manu, 22 Pehi Te Whare.
Referee: Nathan Pearce (Australia)