The Canterbury Cavaliers are the first team to guarantee themselves a place in Saturdays Ford National Hockey League finals.
Canterbury put together a strong performance to defeat Auckland 3-1 in Round 6 and end their hopes of making it through to the final.
The Cavaliers opened strongly in the first quarter and the pressure told in the 15th minute when Willie Davidson scored a skilful field goal.
The score remained that way for much of the match before Richard Bain doubled the lead in the 40th minute and Nick Haig made it 3-0 from a penalty corner with just one minute on the clock. Auckland pulled back a consolation goal through Jonny Bilkey but it was too little too late.
Canterbury banked four points to take top spot with 16 points due to a superior outright wins ratio and goal difference, meaning they will finish either first or second depending on results in the final round of round robin on Friday.
Defending champions the Capital Cobras spoiled North Harbours run with a 2-1 result.
After a tight and goalless first half, Capital broke the shackles midway through the third quarter with a field goal to Benedict van Woerkom.
North Harbour battled back and equalised in the 40th minute with leading goal scorer Robbie Capizzi finding the back of the net. The Cobras then found a winner 10 minutes out from fulltime through Rowan Yeo.
Midlands rocketed up to third on the table on 12 points thanks to a big 8-1 win against Northland, fuelled by doubles from Leo Mitai-Wells and Aidan Sarikaya along with other goals by Zac Woods, Adriaan Stolk, Gabriel Ho-Garcia and Joseph Lyons.
Northland scored their first goal of the tournament through Hamish McKechnie.
Big push from Midlands Women
The Midlands Women pulled off a dominant 8-0 win over hosts Northland to remain in the finals frame.
Facing a must-win against last years runners-up, the Midlands side were in red-hot form scoring four goals in each half.
Amy Robinson and Alia Jaques both starred with a hat-trick each while Natasha FitzSimons and Lauren Turner added to the score sheet.
The Canterbury Cats kept their fine form going with a tight 2-1 result against defending champions Auckland.
Canterbury were first to strike after being awarded a stroke in the 25th minute which Anne Mackechnie sent into the roof of the net.
The Cats doubled their advantage in the 52nd minute when Emily Maguire delivered from a penalty corner. Samantha Harrison pulled a goal back six minutes from fulltime but Auckland were unable to find an equaliser.
North Harbour moved into second on the table thanks to a tense 1-0 result against Capital with Ella Hyatt-Browns 14th minute field goal proving enough to take away four important points ahead of a bye on Friday.
Tomorrow is a rest day at the Ford National Hockey League ahead of the final day of round robin on Friday.
The 2016 Ford National Hockey League is proudly supported by the Whangarei District Council and Trillian Trust.
FORD NHL ROUND 6 RESULTS - MEN
Capital Cobras 2: (Benedict van Woerkom, Rowan Yeo)
North Harbour 1: (Robbie Capizzi)
Canterbury Cavaliers 3: (Willie Davidson, Richard Bain, Nick Haig)
Auckland 1: (Jonny Bilkey)
Midlands 8: (Leo Mitai-Wells 2, Aidan Sarikaya 2, Zac Woods, Adriaan Stolk, Gabriel Ho-Garcia, Joseph Lyons)
Northland 1: (Hamish McKechnie)
BYE: Central Mavericks
FORD NHL ROUND 6 RESULTS - WOMEN
Canterbury Cats 2: (Anne Mackechnie, Emily Maguire)
Auckland 1: (Samantha Harrison)
Midlands 8: (Alia Jaques 3, Amy Robinson 3, Lauren Turner, Natasha FitzSimons)
North Harbour 1: (Ella Hyatt-Brown)
BYE: Central Mavericks