Waikato beat Auckland 26-19 in Hamilton on Saturday to secure a place in the ITM Cup Premiership final for the second year in a row.
Needing a victory to keep their hopes of making the final alive, Auckland were outclassed by the Mooloos as discarded All Blacks Stephen Donald and Liam Messam ran riot against their traditional rivals.
After being edged out of the 30-man All Blacks World Cup squad at the eleventh hour, Messam was a man on a mission and played a hand in three of Waikato's tries, while Bath-bound Donald ensured he would play another match for his beloved side, scoring two tries and cliching the bonus point on fulltime.
The defeat, Auckland's fifth of the season, saw them finish a disappointing fifth on the Premiership ladder with just a 50 per cent winning record this season.
Auckland rarely looked like breaching the Waikato defence early on and had to rely on the boot of sharp shooter Gareth Anscombe, who landed three penalties from five attempts in the first half to keep the visitors within striking range on the scoreboard.
In contrast Waikato always threatened on attack and scored their first try after 11 minutes when Liam Messam made a bust before offloading to Save Tokula who sent Trent Renata over under the sticks.
Messam was in the thick of the action 11 minutes later, making a clean break and charging 30 metres to set up Jackson Willison for the try.
Trailing 14-9 at the break, Auckland made the most of a one man advantage when Stephen Donald was sin-binned in the 43rd minute, piling on ten points to take the lead.
Exciting Grammar Carlton youngster George Moala scored a fine individual try, bumping off lock Toby Lynn on his way to the try line, with Anscombe adding the extras and slotting his fourth penalty kick to see the visitors edge ahead 19-14.
Moala then did extremely well to rip the ball from Alex Bradley's grasp over the try line to save a certain five pointer, before wing Tim Mikkleson dropped the ball with the try line begging to deny the home side a try.
But Auckland couldn't stop Donald, who scored a well worked try on the hour mark before clinching the all important fourth try for the bonus point after the siren had sounded to book his side a home final against Canterbury.
Tries: Donald 2, Willison, Renata
Cons: Renata 2, Donald
Pens: Anscombe 4
Waikato: Trent Renata, Henry Speight, Save Tokula, Jackson Willison, Tim Mikkelson, Stephen Donald, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Alex Bradley, Marty Holah, Liam Messam, Romana Graham, Toby Lynn, Nathan White (c), Marcel Cummings-Toone, Toby Smith.
Replacements: Vance Elliott, Ben May, Matt Vant Leven, Zak Hohneck, Brendon Leonard, Sam Christie, Declan O'Donnell, Ted Tauroa.
Auckland: Dave Thomas, Joe Rokocoko, Hadleigh Parkes, Winston Stanley, George Moala, Gareth Anscombe, Alby Mathewson, Peter Saili, Sean Polwart, Nathan Hughes, Steven Luatua, Josh Katene, Charlie Faumuina, Tom McCartney (c), Pauliasi Manu.
Replacements: Nathan Vella, Angus Ta'avao, Richard Haddon, Ben Masoe, Toby Morland, Piers Francis, Brent Ward, Tevita Mailau.