Southland produced a stirring second-half fightback to end their wait for a first Mitre 10 Cup victory of the season with a 20-16 success against Bay of Plenty on Wednesday.
The Stags looked to be heading for a sixth Championship defeat out of six at Invercargill when – after both teams had exchanged penalties - tries from Aidan Ross and Joe Tupe gave Bay of Plenty a 13-3 half-time advantage.
Southland turned it around after the break, though, with James Schrader and returning New Zealand international Elliot Dixon going over for tries which were both converted by Wharenui Hawera.
Dan Hollinshead's penalty midway through the second half reduced the deficit to just a point, but Hawera took his tally from the tee to 10 points after the Steamers' Solomona Sakalia was sin-binned for a shoulder charge and Southland held on for a win which ensured Northland drop to the foot of the table.
Defeat for Bay of Plenty is a blow to their bid to secure a semi-final spot.