Northland Kauri put on a record-breaking performance while the Taniwha had to work hard to edge Southland Stags and climb atop the Mitre 10 Cup Championship ladder.
It would have taken the entire Taranaki Whio to stop speed merchant Portia Woodman — and then only if one of them was armed with an elephant gun — who scored six tries, not only breaking the record of most tries scored for her side, but also the most points scored in a game.
The Kauri walloped Taranaki 77-3 on a patchy day at Semenoff Stadium in Whangārei yesterday
with a bonus-point win that propelled them to third place in the Farah Palmer Cup, on the same points as Counties Manukau but ahead on points differential.
The huge win followed on from the previous week when Northland Kauri routed North Harbour 65-5 at the same venue and Woodman's try haul yesterday
surpassed the four tries and points total team-mate Tyler Nankivell scored against Counties Manukau a fortnight ago.
The Taniwha won ugly, 18-14, but the Northland fans didn't care a jot.
When they really needed to deliver, out it came: the performance from the ends of the earth.
This they achieved, magnificently. This they achieved despite flanker Kara Pryor's sin-binning inside the last quarter, followed by a heavy penalty count against the home side.
This they achieved, not only without panicking but lifting themselves to another level after Pryor's indiscretion.
When Pryor came back on with minutes remaining and with the Stags hammering away at the Northland tryline, he delivered the coup de grace by forcing a penalty and all his side had to do was run the clock down.
Both teams were even in almost all facets of play except one — defence — and if Northland's heavy combatants live to be 100, they will never man the barricades to greater effect than they did yesterday.
It was tough, unrelenting and torrid but the Taniwha withstood everything thrown at them.
Two penalties by Dan Hawkins followed as the Stags began to make unforced errors, and then a try by Temo Mayanavanua off a lineout maul inside the opening quarter and Southland got their knickers in an unfathomably complicated collective twist.
The Taniwha were suddenly in the ringside seats.
But the visitors' pack was formidable at the set-piece and breakdown and played with a disciplined tactical belief, led by No 8 Tony Lamborn and livewire hooker Gregory Pleasants-Tate — a massive man with great leg drive and all the heart for heavy combat.
They didn't waver and it paid dividends when Lamborn dived over following repeated scrums just before the breather.
Southland looked for more punch in their attack in the second half and sent in replacements Ethan de Groot and Siate Tokolahi early in the piece to provide extra grunt in the forward exchanges.
Afro-haired centre and former New Zealand 7s rep Isaac Te Tamaki skinned Northland wing Jone Macilai on the outside to score in the 46th minute following a brilliant midfield burst for Southland to take the lead.
Southland's message at that point was that they came to win, not to claim frequent flyer points.
But Northland hit back straight from kickoff.
Hawkins scooped up the ball and belted towards the tryline, flicked a pass to Rene Ranger loitering on the blindside, he offloaded to Macilai before halfback Sam Nock managed to hold on to the last pass on the chalk.
The will-o'-the-wisp running and sleight of hand preceding that try was a sight to behold.
With the Northland slabs upfront pounding to dent Southland's resolve and Hawkins' right boot working like a metronome, the home side did enough to close out the match and can now focus their attention to this week's Ranfurly Shield challenge against the Magpies in Napier on Friday night.
At times Southland showed some semblance of pattern, ambition and ability but errors at critical moments killed their momentum, so much of their pain was self-inflicted.
"It was very tough. All three games we've lost have been within three or four points so it's good to know that we can stick it out with teams and stuff like that but yeah, I am sick of just losing," Lamborn lamented.
"Just goes to show we're willing to play, giving it a crack but probably just a little bit too much, to be honest."
"Bit of execution in the end. At halftime, we were confident we were better than them, fitter than them so we wanted to come out firing in the second half and I think we did that, put on a few points on the table but unfortunately, it was just not enough."
Northland skipper Jordan Olsen was proud of the defensive effort in the face of a brutally physical onslaught from the Stags.
"In the end there, that defence on the line our boys showed a lot of ticker. A good attribute of this team is we don't really panic. Cool, calm heads prevail when the times are tough.
"Full credit to Southland, they kept coming at us, and it was one hell of a game. The physicality of this game and just the nature of Southland, how they play, very direct, very big ball carriers, there was definitely a lot of big contacts in there."
Olsen said his side would now start preparing for the shield challenge on Friday evening.
"Set piece is a critical part of the team so we'll work on that and just playing smart, playing in the right areas of the field, and not making it so hard for ourselves."