Taranaki boosted their ITM Cup hopes as they hammered Waikato 41-0 on Friday, running in five tries in total in a dominant display.
After a tight opening half-hour, the defending champions cut loose in the closing stages of the first half with two tries, and added a third immediately after half-time to all but seal the win.
With Charlie Ngatai, Seta Tamanivalu and Angus Taavao-Matau having already scored, it was left to Sean Wainui to grab the bonus-point try just after the hour, before Hika Elliot completed the rout in the final minutes.
Going into the game in fourth and fifth place respectively, Taranaki knew a win would take them a giant step closer to a play-off spot, and they delivered with a thumping win.
Cody Rei knocked over two early penalties to give the home side a 6-0 lead before Latu Va'eno's counter-attack set up Ngatai for the opening try five minutes before half-time.
Rei's conversion made it 13-0 and he was on target again three minutes later after Tamanivalu crossed, following Taranaki's decision to turn down a kickable penalty.
Leading 20-0, the game was over as a contest, and after completing their big win, Taranaki opened up a nine-point lead over their visitors, albeit having played a game more.
Now in third, Taranaki look well-set to reach the play-offs, while Waikato's top four hopes took a major hit.
Tries: Ngatai, Tamanivalu, Taavao, Wainui, Elliot
Cons: Rei 4, McKenzie
Pens: Rei 2
Taranaki: 15 Kurt Baker, 14 Codey Rei, 13 Seta Tamanivalu, 12 Charlie Ngatai (captain), 11 Latu Va'eno, 10 Marty McKenzie, 9 Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 8 Toa Halafihi, 7 Berny Hall, 6 Mitchell Crosswell, 5 Blade Thomson, 4 Mitchell Brown, 3 Angus Ta'avao, 2 Rhys Marshall, 1 Mitchell Graham.
Replacements: 16 Hika Elliot, 17 Sione Lea, 18 Ryan Cocker, 19 Riki Hoeata, 20 Lachlan Boshier, 21 Kylem O'Donnell, 22 Sean Wainui, 23 Jackson Ormond.
Waikato: 15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Regan Ware, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Jordan Payne, 11 Shaun Stevenson, 10 Wharenui Hawera, 9 Harrison Levien (c), 8 Adam Burn, 7 Zane Kapeli, 6 Whetu Douglas (c), 5 David Morgan, 4 James Tucker, 3 Josh Hohneck, 2 Hame Faiva, 1 Loni Uhila
Replacements: 16 Tyrone Te Ruruku, 17 Atu Moli, 18 Ben Tameifuna, 19 Josh Tyrell, 20 Murray Iti, 21 Jonathan Malo, 22 Stephen Donald, 23 Dylan Collier.
Referee: Shane McDermott