It was job done, but not quite mission accomplished just yet for Hawke's Bay after beating Northland 32-13 in their Air New Zealand Cup clash in Whangarei on Friday.
The Magpies left Okara Park with a full house of points after scoring four tries in the bonus-point win, but now have to wait on other results to keep their semi-final hopes alive.
Last year's semi-finalists will pray Waikato can't produce a bonus-point defeat of Auckland in Hamilton on Saturday. If they do, Waikato will claim fourth place because of the competition's rules regarding how to separate teams tied in the final standings.
It is decided by who won the corresponding match between the sides during the season, in this case favouring Waikato's 30-22 defeat of Hawke's Bay in Hamilton last month.
In what may be the Taniwha's last top flight match for at least a year due to competition restructuring, the home side started well but the desire of Hawke's Bay to secure a five-pointer ultimately proved too much for the provincial strugglers.
Hawke's Bay continued their bright end to the season - they won six of their last seven games - by scoring two tries in each half. They were more clinical than the hosts, crossing through wing Jason Kupa after just 90 seconds and prop Sona Taumalolo on the half hour.
Loose forwards Karl Lowe and Thomas Waldrom bagged the second-half tries, the latter coming with just nine minutes remaining, heaping pressure on Waikato to repeat the dose tomorrow.
The match ended on a fiery note, with Hawke's Bay reserve hooker Ash Dixon and Northland prop Karl Haitana were both shown yellow cards after a dust-up between the two packs.
Pens: Munro 2
For Hawke's Bay:
Tries: Kupa, Taumalolo, Lowe, Waldrom
Cons: Matt Berquist 3
Pens: Berquist 2
Northland: 15 Lachie Munro, 14 Simon Munro, 13 Jared Payne (c), 12 Derek Carpenter, 11 Damian Fakafanua, 10 David Holwell, 9 Rhyan Caine, 8 Cam Eyre, 7 Matt Clutterbuck, 6 Eroni Gadolo, 5 Roy Griffin, 4 Daniel Goodwin, 3 Bronson Murray/Karl Haitana, 2 Mikaele Tuu'u, 1 Matt Wallis.
Replacements: 16 Tim Dow, 17 Karl Haitana/Ross Wright, 18 Steve Baker, 19 John Cocker, 20 Luke Hamilton, 21 Jon Elrick, 22 Nick Collins.
Hawke's Bay: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Nick Thomson, 13 Jason Shoemark (c), 12 Sam Giddens, 11 Jason Kupa, 10 Matt Berquist, 9 Chris Eaton, 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Karl Lowe, 6 Michael Johnson, 5 Ross Kennedy, 4 George Naoupu, 3 Clint Newland/Jodi Allen, 2 Hikawera Elliot, 1 Faka'anaua Taumalolo.
Replacements: 16 Ash Dixon, 17 Josh Keys, 18 Matt Egan, 19 Adam Bradey, 20 Dane Shelford, 21 Aayden Clarke, 22 Richard Buckman.
Referee: Garratt Williamson