Auckland maintained their unbeaten status with a hard-fought 22-20 victory over Counties Manukau at Eden Park on Wednesday.
Simon Hickey was the home side's hero as he kicked 17 of their points via five penalties and a conversion. Auckland's only other points came from a try by Tom McCartney in the 75th minute after Peter Saili broke away from a line-out before offloading to the burly hooker.
The match was evenly contested and the sides were level at 6-6 for most of the second half. Counties led 13-6 at half-time, however, after Frank Halai scored in the corner shortly before the break.
Hickey's accurate goal-kicking kept Auckland in the match and he succeeded with three penalties after the break which gave the hosts a 15-13 lead by the 56th minute.
Counties struck back with a well-taken try by Ray Lee-Lo in the 66th minute, which Ki Anufe - who had kicked eight of the visitors points by then - converted but Auckland were not to be denied when McCartney's late try gave Hickey the chance to seal the win.
Pens: Hickey 5
For Counties Manukau:
Tries: Halai, Lilo
Cons: Anufe 2
Pens: Anufe 2
Auckland: 15 Lolagi Visinia, 14 George Moala, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Hadleigh Parkes (capt), 11 Tenina Sauileoge, 10 Simon Hickey, 9 Junior Poluleuligaga, 8 Peter Saili, 7 Sean Polwart, 6 Joe Edwards, 5 Patrick Tuipulotu, 4 Liaki Moli, 3 Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 2 Tom McCartney, 1 Pauliasi Manu.
Replacements: 16 Gafatasi Su'a, 17 Angus Ta'avao, 18 Jack Whetton, 19 Luke Braid, 20 Piri Weepu, 21 Vince Aso, 22 Saleaula Silipa,
Counties Manukau: 15 Sherwin Stowers, 14 Frank Halai, 13 Rey Lee-Lo, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Ahsee Tuala, 10 Ki Anufe, 9 Augustine Pulu, 8 Fritz Lee (capt), 7 Maama Vaipulu, 6 Adam Cathcart, 5 Jimmy Tupou, 4 Ronald Raaymakers, 3 Jarrod Firth, 2 Suliasi Taufalele, 1 Sam Aiono.
Replacements: 16 Micheal Lea, 17 Simon Lemalu, 18 Sikeli Nabou, 19 Sean Reidy, 20 Kane Hancy, 21 Sam Vaka, 22 Sione Molia.
Referee: Ben O'Keeffe