A STRONG second half performance from the Northland side was not enough as they went down fighting 12-22 to a determined Tacirua Transport Naitasiri Highlanders team yesterday.
The win at Ratu Cakobau Park in Nausori means Naitasiri is the only other unbeaten team in the Skipper Cup competition alongside defending champions Nadroga.
The two will meet in the upcoming round.
Against Northland, the Eroni Vereivalu-coached Naitasiri started well scoring two tries in the opening spell to lead 10-0 at the break.
Oveti Delana scored the opening try in the 21st minute followed by the second from lock Saimoni Tagitagivalu in the 31st minute.
In the second spell, the Watisoni Ratulevu-coached Northland made a better start and displayed a much improved performance continuously attacking the Naitasiri tryline.
However some brave defending from the hosts denied the visitors the chance they created.
Naitasiri turned defence into attack and a brilliant solo effort from winger Nasoni Roko gave the Hillmen 17-0 lead midway in the second spell.
Northland responded immediately and after a barrage of attack inside the Naitasiri territory, winger Nasoni Turaga scored in the corner to trail 5-17.
Another solo effort from Naitasiri's Vilikesa Qio in the 74th minute handed the side the bonus point as the team extended its lead to 22-5.
Northland scored the consolation try at the hooter for the 22-12 score in favour of Naitasiri.
"We just gave the game away. We managed to win our set-pieces which have been our downfall so far but we made some poor decisions in the game," said the losing coach Ratulevu.
"But I am happy that we are improving in every game."
Naitasiri manager Atu Kuruibou said there were still areas they could improve on.
"We are happy that we came out victors but there are loopholes where we can improve on.
"The message at the break was to stick to the game plan and for the players to do things right on the field."