Manawatū finally got on the board in 2022 and Counties Manukau had a big win in Tauranga.
The replay of the 2021 Premiership final resulted in a Canterbury success but wasn't dissimilar to the epic contest Waikato won last year.
Like the 2021 decider Canterbury initially jumped ahead, Waikato rallied, but this time Canterbury had the last say with five minutes remaining.
Down 24-27, a strong lineout maul took the hosts within a whisker of scoring. Halfback Kendra Cocksedge then sold a dummy and sailed over for her second try. Canterbury retained the JJ Stewart trophy which they've held since 2017.
Canterbury was ahead 19-6 just before halftime scoring three outstanding tries through the backs. Fullback Rosie Kelly played a blinder and wing Martha Mataele continued her brillant season with two tries.
Waikato wing Cheyelle Robins-Reti with a bust and kick scored to make it 19-13 at the break.
The visiting forwards were magnificent in the second-half. Openside Kennedy Simon tackled herself to a standstill, Ashlee Gaby-Sutherland made three clean steals and powerhouse props Tayna Kalounivale and Awhina Tangen-Wainohu both scored tries as the visitors did everything but win the game.
Canterbury were ruthless when rare chances arose. Their openside Lucy Jenkins has grown in stature.
The only blight on the game was a hefty penalty count of 31.
Canterbury 29 (Martha Mataele 2, Kendra Cocksedge 2, Charntay Poko tries; Cocksedge 2 con) Waikato 27 (Cheyelle Robins-Reti, Tanya Kalounivale, Awhina Tangen-Wainohu tries; Renee Holmes 2 pen, 3 con) HT: 19-13.
Otago blitzed Tasman in the first-half amassing a 29-0 lead to remain unbeaten in the championship.
Though not as ruthless in the second-half, a 65-metre solo try scored by Cheyenne Cunningham illustrated the difference in class between the two sides.
Tasman were hearty, but lacked the pace, polish and power of the Spirit. The Makos best were Sui Pauaraisa, Tita Lupeituu and Bethan Manners.
Otago fullback Sheree Hume ran riot with two tries and a number of breaks. Leah Miles was determined on the openside and Georgia Cormick flourished at halfback.
Otago 39 (Sheree Hume 2, Georgia Cormick, Te Atawhai Campbell, Keely Hill, Leah Miles, Cheyenne Cunningham tries; Cormick 2 con) Tasman 7 (Bethan Manners try, con) HT: 29-0.
Hawke's Bay won their third match on the trot, settling the outcome before halftime with four converted tries.
Wing Apryll Green was toxic in space scoring her first try from halfway when Taranaki failed to find touch and then fending off two defenders when a quick switch by assured first-five Krysten Cottrell created a hint of a gap.
Openside Elle Johns is an inspiring figure for Taranaki. She carried hard throughout and scored close to the interval.
Hawke's Bay struggled with their discipline in the second-half and lost a player to the sin bin. It took some inspired play by halfback Emma Jensen to steady the ship. She effectively created two tries with an intercept and clever options.
Generally the Tui defence was smothering, their lineout drive commanding, and their scrum much stronger than Taranaki, especially in the first-half.
First-five Kirra-Lee Muggeridge was lively at times for Taranaki and Amelia Pasikala has been a standout all season for the Tui.
Hawke’s Bay 45 (Amelia Pasikala 2, Apryll Green 2, Leilani Hakiwai, Hayley McKay, Rakai Tatu-McCafferty tries; Krysten Cottrell 5 con) Taranaki 15 (Elle Johns, Leah Barnard, Lucy Blyde tries) HT: 26-5.
Manawatū finally hit their straps to achieve their first win of the season, a disappointing Wellington outplayed in every facet.
Manawatū led 17-3 after 25 minutes and never looked like getting overhauled Wellington’s misery was later compounded by two yellow cards for persistent infringements.
The Manawatū scrum was a major asset and the loose forward trio of Layla Sae, Rachel Rakatau and Kaipo Olsen-Baker performed exceptionally though the latter left the field injured.
Selica Winiata returned from her refereeing assignment at the Commonwealth Games with spark and Carys Dallinger kicked superbly and attacked with confidence and flair at first-five.
Jackie Patea-Fereti was typically honest for the Pride and Monica Tagoai had her moments.
Manawatū 38 (Kaipo Olsen-Baker, Selica Winiata, Jayme Nuku, Layla Sae, Carys Dallinger tries; Dallinger 2 con, 3 pen) Wellington 17 (Monica Tagoai, Harmony Ioane tries; Thamsyn Newton 2 con, pen) HT: 20-10.
Northland are third in the championship following their second win of the season.
In the first 25 minutes Northland led 17-6 on the back of an imperious scrum and an ability to find space on the edges.
Black Ferns prop Krystal Murray was productive with ball in hand as well. Her offload for a Tara Turner try was a real beauty.
The introduction of reserves steaded the North Harbour scrum while former Black Ferns Sevens rep Hayley Hutana was a growing menace. Three penalties from her boot keep the visitors in touch and then she tapped from a penalty on halfway and scored to put North Harbour in front 23-22.
The lineouts were a lottery and the contest a statemate until Ana Allen was released at the 22 and capped a memorable performance by scoring her second try.
Northland 27 (Ana Allen 2, Kerri Johnson, Harmony Covacich-Baanders, Tara Turner, tries; Krystal Murray con) North Harbour 23 (Caitlyn Cox, Hayley Hutana tries; Hutana 2 con, 3 pen) HT: 22-13.
Counties produced their best performance of the season to revive their Premiership semi-final hopes.
Down 5-3 at halftime, following a slick Payton Takimoana try, Counties was dominating possession and territory.
After the break Counties enjoyed a remarkable 97% of territory in the first 20 minutes of the second period as they built a 15-5 lead.
Arihiana Marino-Tauhinu switched from halfback to first-five and was tactically astute behind a big, desperate pack.
Black Fern Leilani Perese showed her experience at tighthead. Ti Tauasosi and Rebecca Burch were excellent in the forwards and wing Jaymie Kolose really blossomed.
Bay of Plenty tried to speed the game up and promising 19-year old Miracle Monga made a slashing break to reduce the margin to 15-12.
However, three restarts going out on the full was a metaphor for the lack of accuracy by Bay of Plenty. At least two of their Black Ferns, Les Elder and Luka Connor had busy shifts.
Counties Manukau 25 (Arihiana Marino-Tauhinu try, Jaymie Kolose 2 tries, Arihiana Marino-Tauhinu 2 con, Meredith Paul pen, Hazel Tubic pen) Bay of Plenty 12 (Payton Takimoana try, Myracle Monga try, Kiki Tahere con) HT: 5-3