Scott Styris and Gareth Hopkins were at their big-hitting best, but State Auckland Aces had to hang on to repel a committed Northern Knights reply in State Twenty20 action at Eden Park Outer Oval.
Styris notched 61 from 31 balls, smashing seven sixes, as Auckland brought up 190 for four batting first.
Martin Guptill made a run-a-ball 43, and Hopkins picked up the baton after both players were sent back in the pavilion.
The wicketkeeper-batsman scored a four fours and a quartet of sixes to enhance the Acesí total.
An opening stand of 54 between BLACKCAPS captain Daniel Vettori and Englishman Andrew Strauss helped the Knights to a promising start.
James Marshall, Daniel Flynn and Peter McGlashan also contributed, with 31, 37 and 26 respectively.
Seeking 29 off four overs for victory after the latter fell to Andre Adams, ND still looked on course.
But Mark Orchard retired hurt, and Bruce Martin and Tim Southee were run out in the final over to leave the Knights two short of Aucklandís total at a cost of seven wickets.