A second half surge has seen Canterbury overcome a scare, and reassert their title favouritism in the Mitre 10 Cup.
A 41-28 victory over North Harbour in their top of the table clash has been enough for Canterbury to maintain their advantage atop the table, and calm any concerns about their vulnerability following a shock 60-14 thrashing at the hands of Wellington last weekend.
While they weren't at their best, Canterbury displayed how much margin for error they have in an eventually comfortable victory at QBE Stadium. Beating their closest title rivals, at a ground where Harbour hadn't lost since 2015, forecasts home advantage for Canterbury throughout the playoffs.
Winners of eight of the last nine titles, perhaps Canterbury's favouritism didn't need rubber-stamping, but the Wellington humbling - though slightly mitigated by fatigue and rotation - would have been a serious reality check.
Further questions would have been forming at halftime, with Harbour showing some clinical counter-attacking to take a 21-10 lead into the break.
The first half was frantic, with both sides attacking at speed, breaking the line, and not afraid to take risky offloads. As a result, the game sped from end to end, with Harbour's support runners and threatening backline taking the early initiative on the scoresheet.
While both teams possessed attacking threats from all over the park, Harbour were more clinical to begin, with Canterbury's attacks being stalled short of the line on multiple occasions.
Those close calls would turn into points after the break however, as Canterbury finally cashed in on their array of attacking threats.
The pivotal duo of Mitchell Drummond and Richie Mo'unga were at the heart of Canterbury's creative concoctions, while fullback George Bridge was a menace with ball in hand, clocking up 182 metres on 18 carries.
Five minutes into the second half, their pressure had already tolled, with Canterbury hitting the front with two quick tries. Suddenly, the visitors had all the possession, with Harbour forced into making 106 tackles to Canterbury's mere 42.
As Harbour tired under the relentless defensive workload, Canterbury opportunistically pounced. Drummond's two sniping close range tries were just rewards for his innovation, and the experience of Tim Bateman shone through in a calm second-half display.
To their credit, Harbour battled to the end, earning a bonus point for their efforts, and showed they won't be pushovers in the Premiership battle.
However, as it has been all decade, it's Canterbury title to lose.
Canterbury 41 (Mitchell Drummond 2, Richie Mo'unga, Tim Bateman, Josh McKay tries; Mo'unga 5 cons, 2 pens)
North Harbour 28 (Matt Duffie, Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, Harrison Groundwater, Shaun Stevenson tries; Bryn Gatland 4 cons)