Waikato kept their semi-final aspirations on track after cruising to a 41-15 ITM Cup win over Otago in Hamilton on Friday.
The five tries to two victory takes the Mooloo Men top of the tournament standings - albeit temporarily - on 36 points which sees them level with Canterbury.
Waikato fly-half Stephen Donald completed a solid all-round game, scoring a massive 26 points to push his case for a spot on the All Blacks end-of-year tour.
Donald contributed two tries in three minutes, and seven goals from seven attempts, after he scored 25 last week against Northland.
Otago remain rooted at the bottom of the standings, but the final however does not reflect their contribution to a fast-paced encounter at Waikato Stadium.
Waikato took a 17-3 lead at half-time, however the visitors took control of the match in the second half and cut the deficit to 17-15 with two tries in seven minutes after the break.
Though it would be the last time the southerners would score in the game after Donald eased Waikato out to 20-15 lead with a penalty before sending over Mils Muliaina for the Mooloo's third try. Donald converted and Waikato led 27-15.
Donald then dotted down twice himself, the second a gem when he regathered his own chip down the left-hand touchline to score. There was no coming back for a breathless Otago who lost prop Halani Aulika to a yellow card in the final 10 minutes for a swining arm in the build-up to Donald's first try.
Waikato's first-half points came from tries to wing Henry Speight and centre Save Tokula who scored after Donald produced three good passes in the build-up.
Tries: Speight, Tokula, Muliaina, Donald 2
Cons: Donald 5
Pens: Donald 2
Tries: Soakai, Romans
Waikato: 15 Mils Muliaina, 14 Sosene Anesi, 13 Save Tokula, 12 Christian Lealiifano, 11 Henry Speight, 10 Stephen Donald, 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Alex Bradley, 7 Jack Lam, 6 Dominiko Waqaniburotu, 5 Romana Graham , 4 Toby Lynn, 3 Nathan White (C), 2 Vern Kamo, 1 Toby Smith.
Replacements: 16 Hikairo Forbes, 17 Ben May, 18 Matt Vant Leven, 19 Zak Hohneck, 20 Malcolm Barnes, 21 Trent Renata, 22 Frank Halai.
Otago: 15 Chris Small, 14 Joe Hill, 13 Josh Tatupu, 12 Glenn Dickson, 11 Fetu'u Vainikolo, 10 Chris Noakes, 9 Sean Romans, 8 Charlie O'Connell, 7 Alando Soakai (captain), 6 Hoani Matenga, 5 Hayden Triggs, 4 Josh Townsend, 3 Halani Aulika, 2 Peter Mirrielees, 1 Sam Hibbard.
Replacements: 16 Wyatt McKay, 17 Blair Young, 18 Paul Grant, 19 Brad Cameron, 20 Johnny Legg, 21 Paula Kinikinilau, 22 Ryan Shortland.
Referee: Richard Kelly