Canterbury reclaimed the Ranfurly Shield as they beat holders Southland 26-16 in a hard-fought encounter at Rugby Park in Invercargill on Saturday.
The win takes Canterbury to the top of the ITM Cup standings and surely secures them a semi-final spot.
Robbie Robinson and Colin Slade exchanged early penalties before Canterbury wing Telusa Veainu scored the first try of the game against the run of play in the 18th minute.
James Wilson attempted to put a grubber through for Southland, but his effort was picked up by Sonny Bill Williams, who found Veainu and the winger ran it in under the posts.
Slade converted before adding two more penalties as Canterbury took a 16-3 lead after half an hour of play despite the Stags dominating much of the first 30 minutes.
But a late flurry of points in the first period from the Southland saw them claw it back to 13-16 at the break.
Robinson took the score to 16-6 with a penalty and the home side were unfortunate not to be awarded a try by John Hardie after the television match official adjudged Tony Koonwaiyou to have put a foot in touch before offloading to Hardie.
But number eight Kane Thompson rectified this when he bullied his way over the line and Robinson slotted the conversion to make it just a three-point game at the break.
The second period continued in the same manner as the first, with Southland enjoying more territory and possession, but Canterbury making more of their chances.
Slade stretched the visitor's lead when he dotted down after he was fed from a line-out and avoided the challenge of Jimmy Cowan, 10 minutes after the interval.He slotted the resulting conversion to make it 23-13.
James Wilson pulled three points back in the 56th minute after Robinson had departed the field of play after receiving a boot to the chest.
The Stags refused to throw in the towel and they rallied to try and find a way back into the tie, but the Canterbury defence stood firm.
Slade then slotted another penalty five minutes from time to put the result beyond doubt and ensure that the Log o' Wood returns to Canterbury.
Pens: Robinson 2, Wilson
Tries: Veainu, Slade
Con: Slade 2
Pen: Slade 4
Southland: 15 Glen Horton, 14 Mark Wells, 13 Matt Saunders, 12 James Wilson, 11 Tony Koonwaiyou, 10 Robbie Robinson, 9 Jimmy Cowan, 8 Kane Thompson, 7 Tim Boys, 6 John Hardie, 5 Joe Tuineau, 4 Josh Bekhuis, 3 Chris King, 2 Jason Rutledge, 1 Jamie Mackintosh (c).
Replacements: 16 David Hall, 17 Nic Barrett, 18 Alex Ryan, 19 Hua Tamariki, 20 Scott Cowan, 21 Seminar Manu, 22 Pehi Te Whare.
Canterbury: 15 Sean Maitland, 14 Tu Umaga-Marshall, 13 Robbie Fruean, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Telusa Veainu, 10 Colin Slade, 9 Andy Ellis (c), 8 Nasi Manu, 7 Matt Todd, 6 Sam Whitelock, 5 Isaac Ross, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Peter Borlase, 2 Steve Fualau, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Replacements: 16 Paul Ngauamo, 17 Andrew Olorenshaw, 18 Ash Parker, 19 Brendon O'Connor, 20 Willi Heinz, 21 Stephen Brett, 22 Ryan Crotty.
Referee: Chris Pollock