A first-half hat-trick of tries by 19-year-old right wing Sage Shaw-Tait set up University for the bonus point victory they were targeting against Suburbs at Colin Maiden Park on Saturday.
The 48-28 win in front of a boisterous crowd enjoying the sun-drenched conditions kept University on track for a top four place on a weekend of change at the top of the table after Ponsonby travelled away to beat the previously unbeaten College Rifles 28-20.
That result put Ponsonby above College Rifles (who have a game in hand), with University remaining in third and Grammar Tec, who were involved in another close match when beating Marist 29-26, fourth.
Shaw-Tait, an Auckland Rugby academy and Blues under-20s member, was almost untouchable for University in the first 40 minutes as they ran up a comfortable 36-7 halftime lead against Suburbs.
With No10 Henry Saker and fullback Chad Crenfeldt-Smith setting the tempo, Shaw-Tait had a good platform to run off but he showed impressive pace in doing so.
Shaw-Tait's first try, directly from a scrum 10m inside University's territory, was a masterclass in a team's structure and set piece strength showcasing a player's finishing ability.
"We had an edge out wide," admitted coach Jason Mclean before conceding his side were guilty of being a little complacent in the second half.
"It's been the same story over the last couple of weeks," he said. "We've fallen away in the fourth quarter.
"The boys got that bonus point and they probably thought 'job done, there's no way they're going to come back'."
That Suburbs did was also a credit to their determination in a match which was fiercely fought throughout, albeit in good spirits, despite the flurry of yellow cards in the second half; first Suburbs replacement outside back Koki Tokuda was sinbinned for a lifting tackle, and then University players Beau Birtwhistle (offside after team warning) and Steve Afoa (throwing ball away after penalty) followed suit.
The visitors were probably a little unlucky to concede a penalty try in the first half when right wing Bruno Tuivai, who scored two tries himself, was adjudged to have slapped the ball back over the dead ball line when under pressure despite Suburbs' complaints that the ball in fact didn't go dead.
But after Shaw-Tait and the excellent work up front by skipper and lock Jonathan Neary and his loose forward teammates laid the foundation for University's dominance, Suburbs chipped away via the aggressive No8 Dillon Halaholo and props Ravindar Singh Teja and Jarred Adams, the latter increasingly influential despite suffering a suspected fractured forearm within the first 15 minutes of the match.
"He's an absolute machine," coach Glenn Climo said of the former Chiefs front rower who started the match after spending the previous week on honeymoon in Rarotonga.
"The boys were a bit slow out of the blocks but we gave them a rev up at halftime and they showed a fair bit of grit and heart in the second half.
"It buys into that culture that we're trying to establish at Suburbs; never give up."
Suburbs' next assignment is a difficult one - an away match against competition leaders and Sir Fred Allen Trophy holders Ponsonby.
"It's another good challenge for the boys and from memory I don't think Suburbs have ever won the Sir Fred Allen Trophy," Climo said, adding: "Sport is built for upsets."
University have a week off due to the bye and next play Otahuhu away, with the promise of a few players returning from injury.
"We've got some firepower coming back," Mclean said. "Nick Lake, who was our top try scorer before he got injured against Pakuranga, and Sam Aitken as well. Noah Foster will be back too."
One of the biggest cheers of the day was reserved for the second-half appearance of first-five Brenton Helleur, who has returned to University's ranks from retirement at the age of 35.
In fact, the delight from those watching inside from clubrooms' balcony and surrounds was probably beaten only by his excellent spot tackle which shut down a Suburbs attack inside their territory. His intentions for the match and rest of the season were almost immediately made clear.
"He's dying to play and he just needs minutes now," said Mclean, adding that Halleur was likely to start against Otahuhu.
One of the quirks of the competition is that after Grammar Tec put 122 points on Waitakere City in the middle of May, they have endured a series of extremely close matches. They lost to University 24-23 and then gave up the Sir Fred Allen Trophy to Ponsonby in a 21-19 defeat, before edging Pakuranga United 25-24 and, most recently, Marist 29-26.
University 48 (Sage Shaw-Tait 3, George Emosi, Uini Fetalaiga, Nathan Harris, Maile Koloto tries, penalty try; Chad Crenfeldt-Smith 3 cons)
Suburbs 28 (Bruno Tuivai 2, Jacob Tuala-Dawson, Callum Adams tries; Declan Crann 3 cons, Adrian Lole con)
Waitemata 24 Manukau Rovers 15
Grammar Tec 29 Marist 26
Eden 60 Otahuhu 0
Papatoetoe 36 Pakuranga United 19
College Rifles 20 Ponsonby 28