Auckland lifted the New Zealand Cup after claiming a 40-33 extra-time win over Canterbury in the final at Eden Park on Saturday.
The result sees Auckland claim their first provincial title since 2007 and end Canterbury’s three-year reign.
In a classic clash, the hosts fought back from 26-12 down to level the scores after 80 minutes and send the game to extra-time.
After the first period, they remained locked at 33-33, but a runaway try scored by Leon Fukofuka in the second sealed the deal for Auckland.
Canterbury, who’ve won the title nine times in the past 11 years, were favoured to defend their crown as they have done since winning it back in 2015.
And at 20-7 up at half-time, they were well on track. Canterbury dominated the first half, scoring two converted tries and two penalties.
Auckland responded with tries from centre Tumua Manu and No 8 Akira Ioane either side of the interval to reduce the deficit to eight points, but two more penalties from the boot of Brett Cameron extended Canterbury’s lead to 14.
What followed was a dramatic surge from Auckland in the final quarter of the game as well as in extra-time.
Auckland went on the attack and were rewarded with scores from Jordan Trainor and Caleb Clarke. Harry Plummer missed the first conversion, but held his nerve to nail the second from the touchline to lock the scores up at 26-26.
The sides stayed toe-to-toe in the first half of extra-time, adding one try apiece. But the defining moment came when Melani Nanai hit a good line, cut through the Canterbury defence and freed up Fukofuka for a score that secured a famous win for Auckland.
Auckland – Tries: Tumua Manu, Akira Ioane, Jordan Trainor, Caleb Clarke, Mike Sosene-Feagai, Leon Fukofuka. Conversions: Harry Plummer (5).
Canterbury – Tries: Penalty try, George Bridge, Tom Sanders. Conversions: Brett Cameron. Penalties: Cameron (4).
Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images