Counties Manukau scored four unanswered tries during their 30-9 victory against Waikato at the FMG Stadium on Friday.
Tries from Jimmy Tupou, Sione Fifita, Jordan Taufua and Frank Halai proved the difference during the fixture and their dominance was assisted by the yellow card Peni Iowane received in the 71st minute.
Waikato could only respond with three penalties from Damian McKenzie, two of which were scored during the closing stages of the match. For much of the first half and the early stages of the second half, Waikato simply were not able to keep their scoreboard ticking.
The win means that Counties consolidate their fifth position in the ITM Cup standings after nine rounds, having accumulated 23 points. The win also means that Counties are now just four points behind Taranaki, and that their hopes of securing a spot in the semi-finals have been enhanced.
Waikato, who could not collect any bonus points this week either, find themselves in a precarious position on the standings, as they have just 16 points in the Premiership, just two ahead of Manawatu, who prop up the table.
Both teams had to negotiate inclement weather for much of this match and it was Counties who possessed the greater skill and adapted better under the circumstances. Critically they also managed to secure a bonus point in those conditions.
That said, things are not entirely in Counties' hands at this juncture, as they need Manawatu to do them a favour when they play against Taranaki.
Pens: McKenzie 3
For Counties Manukau:
Tries: Tupou, Fifita, Taufua, Halai
Cons: Francis 2
Pens: Francis 2
Waikato: 15 Shaun Stevenson, 14 Regan Ware, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Jordan Payne, 11 Dylan Collier, 10 Damian McKenzie, 9 Brad Weber, 8 Adam Burn, 7 Mitchell Jacobson, 6 Whetu Douglas, 5 Peni Iowane, 4 James Tucker, 3 Ben Tameifuna, 2 Epalahame Faiva, 1 Josh Hohneck
Replacements: 16 Tyrone Te Ruruku, 17 Tyrone Te Ruruku, 18 Joe Walsh, 19 Josh Tyrell, 20 Zane Kapeli, 21 Harrison Levien, 22 Wharenui Hawera, 23 Chauncy Edwardson
Counties Manukau: 15 Toni Pulu, 14 Frank Halai, 13 Sam Vaka, 12 Cardiff Vaega, 11 Sione Fifita, 10 Piers Francis, 9 Richard Judd, 8 Jordan Taufua, 7 Sam Henwood, 6 Onosa'I Tololima-Auva'a, 5 Sikeli Nabou, 4 Jimmy Tupou, 3 Sam Aiono, 2 Gafatasi Su'a, 1 Pauliasi Manu
Replacements: 16 Michael Lea, 17 Sean Bagshaw, 18 Jarrod Firth, 19 Harry Fitzsimons, 20 Maama Vaipulu, 21 Pete Cowley, 22 Willie Walker, 23 Jonathan Faauli
Referee: Richard Kelly