Jerome Kaino and the Auckland forwards have laid the platform for a much-needed NPC win over fellow strugglers Southland in Invercargill.
A 27-17 win is the second of the season for Auckland, who ensure they will stay off the bottom of the Premiership standings.
However, it is five losses from five for Southland, who remain last in the second-tier Championship and showing the sort of form to suggest they will stay there.
A scrappy affair on Friday was won in the second half as Auckland's pack gained the ascendancy.
Turning with the wind in their face and with a halftime lead of just 15-14, Auckland dominated the advantage line and the possession stakes.
At the forefront was veteran All Blacks flanker Kaino, keen to prove he is ready for a Test recall after taking time away to attend to personal issues.
Kaino and fellow-loose forward Blake Gibson impressed, along with skipper Patrick Tuipulotu as they set up second-half tries to forwards Greg Pleasents- Tate and Taleni Seu.
The first-half tries in their bonus point win went to Kaino and winger Vince Aso, but they were cancelled out by responses from Scott Eade and Liam Howley for the hosts.
Southland made too many mistakes but at least defended better than any of their four previous losses.
They average 44 points per game against them through the first half of the season and are yet to even secure a bonus point.
Elsewhere, Taranaki have kept pace with the leaders in the Premiership, following a straightforward 29-7 victory over Bay of Plenty.
Tries five minutes either side of halftime were enough for Taranaki to build a safe lead, and two late tries made the scoreline flattering against a limp Bay of Plenty side who offered little on attack.
Taranaki now hold a 4-1 record, and sit in third spot, five points behind Canterbury and two behind North Harbour.
Bay of Plenty remain in fourth in the Championship, but could drop out of the semifinal spots if Manawatu beat Waikato tomorrow.