Auckland have overcome a brave Otago side 24-19 at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin tonight.
With both sides fighting for the chance to host a semi-final in their respective divisions, it was Auckland who ultimately did enough to lift themselves to the top of the Premiership Division.
Whether Auckland can stay in the top two over the weekend remains doubtful. Canterbury should confirm top billing when they host Bay of Plenty on Sunday while the decisive match of the round sees Wellington at home to Taranaki.
If Taranaki can beat Wellington without a bonus point then Auckland will finish second but any other result - other than a draw - will see Eden Park out of action next weekend.
Otago meanwhile will need Tasman to do what no other side has done all season and lose to North Harbour if they are to be playing at Forsyth Barr next weekend.
And if that was the last match in Dunedin this season, at least it was one to remember. Both sides played like their lives depended on it with massive hits and suffocating line speed the order of the night.
Auckland - for the most part - had the better of the contest but Otago's desperation was something to behold as they hung on time after time with last ditch defence.
Auckland built a slender 14-13 halftime through a try to Dave Thomas and three Gareth Anscombe penalties.
But it was in the second half when the real drama unfolded. Anscombe was denied an intercept try by a crude call from the TMO before both sides had players sent to the sin-bin.
Hugh Blake was the first when he cynically saved a try for the home side by intervening from an offside position before a massive no-arms hit from Liaki Moli on Hayden Parker gave the former a 10 minute breather, and the latter his third penalty to narrow the gap to 17-16.
But with 10 minutes to go it was star Auckland fullback Charles Piutau who reinforced why one day he is likely to play at the highest level.
Adam Hill made a break for Otago from deep inside his own territory but with one man to beat he passed it straight into the arms of Piutau who shrugged of a couple of tackles and ran 40 metres for the killer blow.
Dickson kicked a penalty to get Otago a bonus point for being within seven of Auckland's score but it is unlikely that this will have much of an impact on the Championship table.
Otago 19 (Sam Anderson Heather try; Hayden Parker 3 pens
con, Glenn Dickson pen)
Auckland 24 (Dave Thomas, Charles Piutau tries; Gareth Anscombe 4 pens, con)