North Harbour have emerged as the sleeping giants in both the men's and women's competitions after a frantic weekend double-header in the National Hockey League.
After a circumspect start in the opening weekend, the Harbour men and women bounced back with four from four at Lloyd Elsmore Park to become genuine threats heading into today's fifth round.
In the biggest upset of the weekend, the North Harbour men, who picked up just one of a possible eight points in the opening two rounds, beat previously unbeaten Auckland 3-0 in yesterday's fourth round to bring the hosts back to the field after they had threatened to burst clear.
Ahead 1-0 at halftime, Harbour added two unanswered second half goals with former Black Sticks Joseph Bartholomew, David Kosoof and Jan Petersen on the scoresheet.
In Saturday's third round, Bartholomew had scored two second half goals in his team's 2-0 win over Central.
Auckland went into yesterday's derby clash after a third round scare when they just edged Southern 2-1 in a game in which all the scoring action came in the second half.
North Harbour will be wary of Southern when they meet in the second of today's matches after the Southern men upset fancied Midlands 3-2 in yesterday's late game.
Canterbury are setting the pace in the women's race for the K Cup.
Wins over Auckland, in yesterday's feature clash, and Northland, by a comfortable 6-2, made it four from four.
The Aaron Ford-coached Canterbury team are three points clear of North Harbour with Auckland, who bounced back to beat Capital 3-2 on the back of a Katie Glynn hat-trick, a point back in third.
Midlands remain in striking distance of a title shot with two wins and a draw.
Bolstered by Black Sticks Cat Finlayson, Clarissa Eshuis and Sam Charlton, Midlands had two good wins in belting previously unbeaten Capital 4-0 and Southern 4-1.
North Harbour, who were held to a draw and failed to beat Midlands in a first round shootout, have since won their next three including a 5-1 romp over Central yesterday.
In today's feature women's games, Canterbury square-off against Midlands while North Harbour face Capital at noon.
The Auckland men will be flat out to get their campaign back on track when they play Central this afternoon.
The late game between Midlands and Canterbury will also attract plenty of attention.By Terry Maddaford Email Terry