A controversial late try by Karaitiana Vette-Walsh helped book Mid Western a semifinals spot and head off a spectacular Marist comeback on Saturday.
With both teams still in the Southern Districts Premier club rugby title race, Mid Western were comfortably ahead 23-8 going into the final quarter after leading 13-3 at the break.
Some fantastic counter attacking flair from Marist saw that lead disappear in little more than 10 minutes.
Mid Western buried their frustration and on the back of several phases the ball went wide to the replacement winger, Vette-Walsh, to touch down with three minutes remaining.
The winger's legs touched the flag in the act of scoring with Marist players appealing to referee Kyal Collins that he had gone into touch. Without the gift of a replay, a discussion between the touch judge and the referee ensued before the try was awarded.
Coach Simon Cauty was relieved the side has now confirmed their playoff place and he said that with three rounds remaining their aim is to earn a home semifinal.
The side has scrambled to cover some holes caused by injury in recent weeks with regular No 8 Ben Berridge carting the ball up at second five-eighths on Saturday. He was replaced in the pack by Northland import Hale T-Pole playing his first game for his new club but with Vette-Walsh back from injury and in scoring form, Berridge will probably be sent back to the forwards for the rest of the season.
Elsewhere, the desperation for points also saw close encounters with leaders Wellsford claiming the only big win of the round beating Hikurangi 57-12 at Centennial Park.
Mid Northern are the other team vying for a home semifinal and they had to overcome a spirited Hora Hora effort before finally winning 20-18.
Although the home side outscored Mid Northern three tries to two, the difference proved to be in the goal kicking department with Mid Northern taking their chances, with Hora Hora's kicks going wide.
Still looking for their first home win of the season, Otamatea pushed the highly-rated Kamo side hard during their match at Kaiwaka but the visitors held them out for a 16-10 win.
Old Boys remain in the race for a playoff spot with their hard-fought 29-27 over the visiting Western Sharks. They now trail Marist and Kamo by three points, with Hora Hora a further three points adrift.