Waikato blew a 19-0 half-time lead to draw 22-all with Auckland at Eden Park on Saturday.
The two teams showed why they’d topped their respective pools earlier in the NZ Cup, by producing a seven-try thriller.
Waikato stunned the Aucklanders with three tries in the opening quarter. However, the home side fought their way back to lead 22-19, before a David Hill penalty snatched the draw for Waikato.
Kurtis Haiu, Saimone Taumoepeau, Brad Mika and David Smith scored tries for Auckland, while Waikato’s three tries came from Roy Kinikinilau, Dwayne Sweeney and Liam Messam.
In other NZ Cup matches, Northland produced one of the shocks of the NZ Cup by beating Taranaki 23-17.
Hurricanes flyhalf David Holwell landed all five of his shots at goal, while Taranaki’s duo of Miah Nikora and Scott Ireland kicked just one from of six.
Hawke’s Bay kept a 10-year winning streak over their old Central Vikings partners intact with a 26-10 victory over Manawatu in Napier.
In Invercargill, the Southland pack laid the foundation for a 23-14 victory against Tasman. The Stags led 17-11 at the break.
Meanwhile, Bay of Plenty produced an outstanding second half effort to eventually thump Counties Manukau 38-11 in Mt Maungnui. The Steamers trailed narrowly at the break but put up 30 unanswered points to show their class.