A combination of their own resolve and a curious decision from the officials saw Canterbury remain unbeaten and seal a semifinal spot in the ITM Cup.
Trailing for 70 minutes of their clash against Waikato in Christchurch, the home side took advantage of Ben Tameifuna's yellow card to score two tries and claim a narrow victory.
An out-of-sorts Canterbury were outplayed for the the majority of the match but were barely able to walk away with a seventh straight win and leapfrog Tasman to the top of the Premiership. For that, they had to thank Ben Funnell and Matt Todd, the scorers of a pair of late tries, along with the men in pink.
There initially appeared to be little in Ben Tameifuna's off-the-ball tangle with an opponent, and television replays confirmed as much. But even after the TMO failed to spot an offence, referee Paul Williams brandished yellow to the Waikato prop on the advice of touch judge Liam Scanlon.
Tameifuna trudged off and Canterbury immediately took advantage, earning a couple of lineouts in the opposite corners of AMI Stadium and implementing a couple a successful lineout drives against their undermanned opponents.
The result - sealed with a 78th-minute penalty from Tom Taylor - would have been described as deserved by only the most one-eyed Cantabrian, but these are the sorts of matches champion teams often find a way to win.
Nothing was working for Canterbury in the opening spell, with their deficient energy levels seeing them create little in attack and slip off tackles in defence, while Waikato made the most of their opponents' indifference to score a pair of first-half tries and take an 11-point lead to the break.
The mooloo men may have been coming off a 41-0 thumping against Taranaki the previous weekend but they remained resolute after the break, preventing Canterbury from getting a sniff of their line. Until, that is, the referees intervened.
Canterbury 18 (Funnell, Todd tries; Taylor 2 pens, con)
Waikato 17 (Stevenson, McKenzie tries; McKenzie 2 cons, dg)