Southland pulled Northland back to reality with a 39-31 victory in Invercargill this afternoon, gaining just their second win of the 2016 Mitre 10 Cup season and denying the Taniwha theirs.
The battle between North and South was looking more like a struggle for last place, with both teams occupying the lowest echelons of the Mitre 10 Cup standings.
Northland looked to continue their somewhat novel momentum after defeating Waikato earlier in the week for their first win in two years. Meanwhile Southland needed a win to lift them out of the wooden spoon position.
Sunny conditions made for free flowing rugby - both teams abandoning any sort of kicking game in favour of quick ball movement through the hands.
It did, however, come at a cost, with both teams coughing up a hoard of possession through turnovers in the first half, keeping the scoreboard low.
A tied score at the half was enough to motivate the Taniwha as they dominated the first stanza of the second half. However, a wealth of possession only resulted in seven points and Southland capitalised on staunch defense, scoring three tries in 10 minutes.
That gave them a 20 point lead which they were able to defend through the final 15 minutes.
James Schrader's double and Wharenui Hawera's backline leadership showed just how potent the young Southland attack can be.
The bonus point win should have lifted Southland back above Northland in the Championship standings, however a last minute try to Jone Macilai ensured the Taniwha took away two bonus points and therefore stay ahead of the Stags on points differential.
Southland 39 (J. Schrader 2, M. Molloy, W. Hawera, T. Tuimavave tries; W. Hawera 2 cons, pen, J. Cowan DG, G. Dyer 2 cons)
Northland 31 (P. Kite, P. Breen, S. Neville, A. Stokes, J. Macilai tries; P. Breen 3 cons)