Ihaia West missed a last-gasp penalty as Auckland edged out Hawke's Bay 25-24 in a thrilling Mitre 10 Cup clash at McLean Park on Wednesday.
West had the chance to snatch a first victory of the season for the home side, but his kick drifted wide of the posts to give last year's runners-ups a third consecutive win.
Auckland were way off their best and trailed 11-3 at half-time after West scored a try and six points with the boot, but Hawke's Bay were unable to press home their advantage.
Greg Pleasants-Tate and Vince Aso touched down for Auckland after the interval, with captain Simon Hickey landing a penalty five minutes from time to take his tally to 10 points and give his side a one-point advantage.
Hickey failed from the tee for the first time in the game with just two minutes to go, but West was unable to make him pay.