Auckland kept the pressure on Wellington at the top of the ITM Cup table after beating Northland 41-10 at Eden Park on Thursday.
The hosts scored six tries but didn't have things going their own way for the entire match and only took control of proceedings after half-time.
Northland suffered a setback when their inspirational captain Rene Ranger was a late withdrawal due to injury. His place in the starting line-up was taken by Mateo Malupo.
Auckland led 14-7 at the break, thanks to tries from Hadleigh Parkes and Vince Aso which were converted by Piri Weepu. Northland's only try was scored on the stroke of half-time by Mathew Wright after Sean Polwart laid the groundwork in the build-up.
After the interval, Auckland stepped up a notch and Goerge Moala increased the lead, in the 48th minute, after shrugging off a soft tackle close to the Northland try-line. Weepu added the extras and also succeeded with a penalty five minutes later to give Auckland a 24-7 lead before Daniel Hawkins reduced the deficit with a three-pointer of his own shortly afterwards.
Auckland were now dominant and Simon Hickey, Lolagi Visinia and Ofa Tu'ungafasi all crossed the whitewash with Weepu converting two out of the three five-pointers.
The win takes Auckland to the top of the table for the time being ahead of Wellington's clash with Canterbury on Saturday.
Tries: Parkes, Aso, Moala, Hickey, Visinia, Tu'ungafasi
Cons: Weepu 4
Auckland: 15 Lolagi Visinia, 14 Vince Aso, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Hadleigh Parkes (c), 11 George Moala, 10 Simon Hickey, 9 Piri Weepu, 8 Peter Saili, 7 Sean Polwart, 6 Joe Edwards, 5 Jack Whetton, 4 Liaki Moli, 3 Angus Ta'avao, 2 Tom McCartney, 1 Sam Prattley.
Replacements: 16 Nathan Vella, 17 Pauliasi Manu, 18 Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 19 Patrick Tuipulotu, 20 Kara Pryor, 21 Wayne Ngaluafe, 22 Tenina Sauileoge.
Northland: 15 Ben Seymour, 14 Mathew Wright, 13 Derek Carpenter, 12 Warren Dunn, 11 Mateo Malupo, 10 Daniel Hawkins. 9 Sonatane Takulua, 8 Jake Paringatai, 7 Daniel Pryor, 6 Roy Griffin, 5 Tom Murday, 4 David Morgan, 3 Will-Griff, 2 Matt Moulds, 1 Ross Wright.
Replacements: 16 Robbie Abel, 17 Bronson Murray, 18 Bryce Williams, 19 Ben Berridge, 20 Mac Sykes, 21 Viliami Tahitu'a, 22 tbc.
Referee: Shane McDermott