Southland and Canterbury were the big winners in week nine of the ITM Cup as three teams from the top five suffered defeats.
The Stags retained the Ranfurly Shield and top spot on Thursday night with a hard earned victory over Auckland, their first over the blue and whites since 1971.
Canterbury moved above Auckland into second spot with a win over old rivals Wellington in front of a packed AMI Stadium on Saturday. Despite the loss Wellington didn't lose ground on the top four after Taranaki suffered at the hands of a strong Hawke's Bay side in Napier.
Waikato, Bay of Plenty and Counties Manukau all kept their playoff hopes alive with round nine wins.
Masaga dazzles in the wet
Stags courageous under fire
Thursday: Wellington v Bay of Plenty
Friday: Auckland v Hawke's Bay
Saturday: Northland v Waikato, Otago v Canterbury, Taranaki v Southland
Sunday: Manawatu v Tasman, Counties Manukau v North Harbour
ITM Cup standings
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