Canterbury ran six tries past Waikato to win 52-27 in a rematch of last year's ITM Cup Final at Waikato Stadium in Hamilton on Sunday.
Canterbury led 29-24 at the interval. Waikato were able cut what had been a 19-point deficit to just two points early in the second period but 23 unanswered points saw the visitors end a with comfortable bonus-point win.
Centre Robbie Fruean got his second try of the match with a late intercept while full-back Tom Taylor contributed 22 points with the boot, including a penalty from inside his own half.
The win moves the defending champions to within a point of third-placed Wellington while Waikato remain level on points with Hawke's Bay at the bottom of the Premiership table.
It took Canterbury just 21 minutes to secure the four-try bonus point before Waikato launched a fine recovery to still be in touch at half time.
But, having played their hearts out to get back into the game, the hosts were giving a hiding in the second half.
In near perfect conditions, Nasi Manu, Fruean and Johnny McNicholl all scored for Canterbury in the opening 12 minutes.
The Mooloos, who had the benefit of a tailwind in the first half, finally got on the scoreboard when prop Toby Smith was driven across the tryline in the 22nd minute.
But Canterbury captain George Whitelock replied almost immediately with the visitors' fourth try.
Waikato touched down twice more - through prop Ben May and scrum-half Brendon Leonard - to narrow the gap to five points at the break.
A Trent Renata penalty reduced the margin to just two (27-29) in the second half, but the frenetic pace began to take its toll.
Taylor landed two penalties, before replacement prop Paea Fa'anunu crossed for the try that finally broke Waikato's spirit. Fruean then added the final nail to the hosts' coffin.
Tries: Smith, May, Leonard
Cons: Renata 3
Pens: Renata 2
Tries: Manu, Fruean 2, McNicholl, Whitelock, Fa'anunu
Cons: Taylor 5
Pens: Taylor 4
Waikato: 15 Trent Renata, 14 Tim Mikkelson, 13 Save Tokula, 12 Jackson Willison, 11 Declan O'Donnell, 10 Piers Francis, 9 Brendon Leonard, 8 Alex Bradley (c), 7 Zak Hohneck, 6 Matt Vant Leven, 5 Sam Kilgour, 4 Chris Middleton, 3 Ben May, 2 Vance Elliott, 1 Toby Smith.
Replacements: 16 Kalem Chan Boon, 17 Ted Tauroa, 18 Rory Grice, 19 Jono Armstrong, 20 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 21 Sam Christie, 22 Joe Webber
Canterbury: 15 Tom Taylor, 14 Adam Whitelock, 13 Robbie Fruean, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Johnny McNicholl, 10 Tyler Bleyendaal, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Nasi Manu, 7 Matt Todd, 6 George Whitelock (c), 5 Dominic Bird, 4 Luke Katene, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Replacements: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Paea Fa'anunu, 18 Joel Everson, 19 Luke Whitelock, 20 Willi Heinz, 21 Telusa Veainu, 22 Sam Monaghan.