It may not have been a victory but there are great signs for a resilient and dogged Northland side for the remainder of the Mitre 10 Cup.

In a dreary contest at Eden Park, Northland nearly caused a major upset as they went down to Auckland 10-8.

Again they showed defensive steel as the weather negated the possibility of a free-for-all classic. Instead it was a war of attrition and it was one Northland almost clinched.

The game reached no spectacular heights as turnovers were more prevalent than tackle-busts.


Auckland will be happy with the outcome but that will be about all. The Premiership outfit were only slightly better than in last week's 16-14 loss to Counties but they've snuck out of Eden Park with the result.

Northland, on the other hand, will no doubt be gutted they couldn't clinch the upset but spurred by the fact they pushed their rivals to the final whistle.

The forward pack battled away in the first 40 minutes as neither side showed a desire to spread the ball wide, instead going with one -off runners from near the base of the ruck.

Northland took an early 3-0 lead as Auckland fullback Jordan Trainor was shown yellow after a clumsy aerial challenge on Sam Nock. Peter Breen, elevated to the starting first-five role, slotted the penalty.

However, Auckland were the more attacking side in that 10-minute spell and looked to have scored through Toulon-bound Malakai Fekitoa, however the ref ruled a knock-on.

Jono Hickey tied things up just prior to Trainor's return and they continued to press forward, eventually being rewarded five minutes from the break with a try to hooker Kurt Eklund.

The Hickey conversion gave Auckland a 10-3 lead.

Northland came out from the break strongly, looking to capitalise on any opportunity.

They finally did so in the 57th minute through a spectacular effort to put replacement winger Jone Macilai over in the corner.

Jack Goodhue, in his first outing in Northland colours, threw a cut-out ball to put Solomon Alaimalo in space. Alaimalo charged down the sideline before finding a rampaging Macilai, who slid over from eight metres out.

Dan Hawkins narrowly missed a tough conversion from out wide and Auckland roared back on to attack as they worked to oust the Championship side.

The Taniwha put in a tough defensive shift in the last 15 minutes to deny Auckland points but couldn't cross the try line themselves.

Auckland ended the game with a 26-phase effort before booting the ball into touch to take the honours.

Northland now head down the line to take on Southland in Invercargill on September 2.

Auckland 10 (Kurt Eklund try, Jono Hickey con, pen)
Northland 8 (Jone Macilai try, Peter Breen pen)
HT: 10-3