Auckland showed why they are favourites for the women's interprovincial golf title on day two of the championship at the St Clair Golf Club in Dunedin yesterday, but not before a nervous finish.
The most successful team in the event that dates back to 1949 (with 20 wins) dismissed Canterbury easily in the morning 4-1 before a scare in the afternoon.
They looked to be in cruise control for their third win from as many matches yesterday afternoon but were made to fight by a dogged Taranaki team.
Auckland No 2 Munchin Keh, who won the New Zealand amateur championship in April, was one down to Taranaki's Holly Winter heading down the last.
But the Titirangi golfer rallied and made a 3m putt for birdie to win the hole and secure the half which enabled the defending champions to win 3-2.
Auckland, who have won 11.5 of a possible 15 individual points, are top of division one. They are the only team with a perfect winning record in the group and have already had their bye.
Meanwhile, in division two Wellington continued their momentum with a 4-1 demolition of Tasman in the balmy conditions.
Wellington, who have not won the event since 1992, look on course to meet Auckland in the final on Saturday afternoon.
North Harbour, without world No 1 Lydia Ko, have continued to win well and they and Wellington are the only unbeaten teams in Division Two.
The 2011 champions have quality throughout in New Zealand Amateur finalists the Keh sisters and Larissa Eruera who won the New Zealand amateur in 2006 as a 14-year-old.
The Auckland captain has gone unbeaten this week at No 5 and was pleased with her team's form.
"It is always tough to be favourites as well as defending champions because everyone wants your scalp," said the 20-year-old from the Akarana Golf Club.
"So you have to take every match seriously - especially around this course. It is short and there is a lot of par fives so there is the chance to score well. We have to focus on what we are doing."
Waikato continued their momentum with a 4-1 win in the morning over Aorangi but later lost their way in a crucial match with Canterbury.
Canterbury rallied well in their must-win match, with Sylvie Williams, Jess Guezenrodt and reserve Fiona Gebbie getting them over the line.
If Canterbury remain undefeated, Waikato may have to beat Auckland tomorrow afternoon to advance to the semifinals.
Bay of Plenty suffered a blow to their title hopes when they were well beaten 4-1 by a jubilant Manawatu-Wanganui side.
Manawatu No 5 Kelly Nicholas was five down with six to play and came back to beat her Bay rival Alanna Campbell 1 up.
Auckland will look to make sure hosts Otago do not claim their scalp today while Wellington will feature in one of the matches of the day against Bay of Plenty.