Glenora were robbed of a last-gasp victory yesterday when referee Artie Clark blew his whistle early to allow Manurewa a 30-all draw.
Clark called it off straight after the fulltime hooter, but while a home-team play-the-ball was in progress on the 20m line, with the subsequent drop goal that went between the posts not counted.
Even opposing coach Kelly Shelford conceded the Marlins were lucky to get away with one point.
"The ball was played and I thought he should have played it on," he said of Clark's call.
But he wasn't complaining after coming away from the Bears' home ground even, despite dominating much of the game.
"We dominated them for 60 minutes and then our attack and our defensive structure fell apart," Shelford said.
He admitted it felt a bit weird to coach against the club back on the ground where he spent three years with team-mates including fellow Kiwis Duane Mann, Dean Lonergan and Phil Bancroft.
But he was pleased with the effort from a side including seven player changes from the one who beat Mt Albert the previous week.
Shelford said he was benefiting from spreading the Marlins' net wide and further south in its catchment area.
Opposite Dean Hunter was not keen to talk about the last act of play.
"What do I say?"
He was disappointed at a 9-2 penalty count against his side by halftime that contributed to the visitors' lead into the late stages of the game.
"It's the first time we've had to come from behind and it was a good test of character," Hunter said. "We showed plenty of character, there's lots to be positive about."
Captain Gavin Bailey at five-eighth and centre Aniseto Iole, who broke the line or got passes away regularly in midfield, stood out. Lock Carl Edmondson led the much smaller Bears pack on defence.
The home team knew they had to force turnovers in the last minutes to win and they did so, pushing the Marlins off their scrum ball on their own 20m line and Edmondson's recovery leading to a try two passes later to level things.
But Aaron Clyde's conversion went wide and that and the field goal ensured the draw.
Minor provincial sides again copped a walloping, belying the argument that the number of Auckland sides should be cut.
Central were thumped 42-16 by Mt Albert and Taranaki were destroyed 72-16, 13 tries to three, by Hibiscus Coast. Shaun Ata had four tries, Joe Vivafe and Daniel Floyd three each, while Floyd nailed 10 goals.
Wellington continue to struggle in terms of depth and experience, going to halftime 18-12 down and then conceding seven second-half tries to be beaten 54-12 by the Eastern Tornadoes.
Canterbury won 42-16 over North Harbour to retain second spot behind Hibiscus Coast with Marist-Richmond, who beat Otahuhu 56-22, 10 tries to five.