North Harbour could only match it with Canterbury for so long.

After a competitive first 40 minutes, a second half capitulation looked inevitable for the hosts at QBE Stadium. They couldn't stave it off, falling to a 31-21 defeat.

There were danger signs early for the home fans, with their side taking the idea of being gracious hosts a little too far and coughing up 14 points in just eight minutes.

It appeared that North Harbour were simply slow out of the sheds, because after the opening 10 minutes the hosts brought the fight.

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Hooker James Parsons sparked a comeback with a long run followed by a magical behind-the-back flick pass which put winger Matt Duffie away untouched. They leveled things soon before halftime through Shaun Stevenson, who blitzed the Canterbury defensive line and was too fast for the chasers.

That's about where the good news stopped for Harbour fans.

A scrum penalty on the half time hooter saw Canterbury take the points and hold a slim lead at the break, which was soon extended in the opening 20 minutes of the second stanza. Halfback Mitchell Drummond's intercept of a predictable Bryn Gatland flick pass led to a try for loose forward Reed Prinsep, who was soon followed over by lock Mitchell Dunshea.

Neither side were helped by yellow cards – with Harbour's Tevita Li sent for a deliberate knock on while Canterbury's Connor Collins was pinged for holding a man back.

A man up on the pitch, Harbour hit back late in the piece through Sione Teu, but Canterbury closed out a bonus point win to temporarily go top of the Premiership, and leave their hosts anchored to the bottom.

Canterbury 31 (Nathan Vella, George Bridge, Reed Prinsep, Mitchell Dunshea tries; Brett Cameron 4 cons, pen)
North Harbour 21 (Matt Duffie, Shaun Stevenson, Sione Teu tries; Bryn Gatland 3 cons)
HT: 17-14