Northland face a nervous wait to see if they qualify for the Mitre 10 Cup Championship semi-finals after succumbing to a 36-18 loss to leaders Wellington.
By not getting any bonus points Northland now need one of Manawatu, Bay of Plenty and Otago to lose to secure a spot in the semi-finals.
Northland certainly looked the more hungry side early on as they chased a home semi-final and it paid off as they made multiple turnovers.
The likes of lock Josh Goodhue and centre Rene Ranger proved a menace at the breakdown as they got in great body position over the ball.
Jack Goodhue showed why he's leading the Duane Monkley Medal race as the second five made Wellington work hard to bring him down.
Northland broke the deadlock in the 17th minute after a sustained attack.
Ranger showed his array of skills as a perfectly placed grubber found a flying Jordan Hyland for a try in the corner, taking advantage of lazy coverage from his wing opposite Ben Lam.
First five Dan Hawkins nailed the sideline conversion to give them the 7-0 lead.
Wellington fought back and found themselves in great field position with a lineout. From there rampaging second five Thomas Umaga-Jensen who busted through some would-be tacklers to reduce the gap to two.
Northland conceded again minutes later as first five Jackson Garden-Bachop put a chip which bounced perfectly off the crossbar into his hands for the go-ahead try.
Hawkins reduced the gap to two before the half was finished as Northland continued to probe the Championship leader's defences.
Wellington coach Chris Gibbes spoke about playing with energy going into the second spell but he wouldn't have been happy as No. 8 Matt Matich busted through a weak defensive line straight off the restart.
It didn't lead to a try but it put them in a position to take the lead, which Hawkins duly did following a long delay after lock Tim Bond was stretchered off.
The introduction of blockbuster hooker Asafo Aumua paid immediate dividends for the home side as he forced his way over off the back of a maul to restore the home side's lead.
Northland's set piece was dominant throughout the match, particularly at the scrum where loosehead prop Ross Wright had a field day.
However Wellington started to flex their muscles in the pack, leading to prop Alex Fidow's seventh try of the season which extended their buffer to 13.
Northland struggled to assert any sort of territorial advantage in the second spell after enjoying the lion's share in the first spell, which they could ill-afford against the class of Wellington.
Ousted All Black winger Julian Savea got into the action, starting a move with a strong hit up before reaping the benefits with a try in the right hand corner.
Northland found a bit of traction late in the second spell as a good bust from replacement flanker Kara Pryor put them in a good spot before Jack Goodhue finished it off to try put them back in the contest.
But that glimpse was fleeting as a beautiful cut-out pass to Aumua for his second of the night and fifth in his last two outings against Northland.
Wellington 36 (Asafo Aumua 2, Thomas Umaga-Jensen, Jackson Garden-Bachop, Alex Fidow, Julian Savea tries, Garden-Bachop 3 con)
Northland 18 (Jordan Hyland, Jack Goodhue tries, Dan Hawkins con, 2 pen)