A deserved 2-0 win over Midlands in yesterday's fifth round at Lloyd Elsmore Park booked the Canterbury women the short route to Saturday's Ford National Hockey League semifinals.
With a perfect five-from-five record, Canterbury, who finished a lowly sixth in last year's K Cup battle, had a big enough gap on the field at the end of the day's play to be assured of a top four finish with two rounds still to play.
A Jordan Grant strike from a penalty corner and a field goal from Cassandra Reid had the southerners 2-0 ahead at halftime. With no further scoring Canterbury banked the points and now look forward to what promises to be an interesting encounter with North Harbour when play resumes tomorrow.
North Harbour stubbed their toe in going down 1-0 to Capital yesterday but still remain in the semifinal mix with games against Canterbury and a crucial last round clash with Auckland to come.
Morgan Terry's first half goal enough to earn Capital their second win and leave them just outside the top four.
Southern scored their first win in edging the luckless Northland 3-2 after the southerners had led just 1-0 at the break.
Auckland got their bid back on track with a 3-0 win - goals to internationals Katie Glynn (2) and Honor Carter - over Central in the last game of the day to move back into second place and, barring disasters in their remaining matches, a guaranteed a top four finish.
The men's match of the day between Auckland and Central lived up to its billing.
Locked 1-1 at halftime and 3-3 after 70 regulation minutes, Central eventually claimed the extra point with a clear 3-1 margin in the penalty stroke shootout. Auckland were headed for their fourth victory and their retention of top spot until Black Sticks striker Nick Wilson swooped late to lock it up and send it to a shootout.