The penultimate round of the Plunket Shield cricket competition produced just one outright result which propelled the Canterbury Wizards atop the standings.
Canterbury were rewarded for a sporting declaration as they beat competition easybeats Auckland by 28 runs, a result which thrust them into the lead on 33 points, four ahead of the Central Stags and the Northern Knights.
The title remains very much on the line heading into the last round starting on Monday, when Canterbury host Northern, Central are at home to Auckland and Otago play Wellington.
Auckland gave their victory target of 289 a decent lick on home turf at Colin Maiden Park before tailender Chris Martin was dismissed with the second new ball as they were clinging on for a draw.
A career-best 71 from 22-year-old Brad Cachopa raised Auckland hopes after they had slipped to 137 for five but his departure at 255 for eight effectively settled the matter.
Canterbury had earlier closed their second innings at 231 for eight declared, leaving the home side a generous 289 to score off 89 overs.
Skipper Peter Fulton's hunch was eventually proven to be the right one as legspinner Todd Astle collected four for 96 off 28 overs while Struan George took three for 55 and seamer Andy Ellis chipped in with the last two wickets.