Otumoetai Eels' pride was severely dented in Taupo on Saturday in the premier rugby league Cross Country Rentals competition.
The Eels lost 38-16 to a strong Phoenix outfit intent on taking the fourth place playoffs spot from the Eels after round 12 of the 18-week competition.
Otumoetai's woes started from Thursday with several of their key players making themselves unavailable (two on the day) due to work and injuries resulting in five changes from the week previous with four having to back up from the reserve grade game.
Half Josh Weeden and dynamic hooker Tane Leef, who scored two tries, were doing everything to stem the tide but Taupo fully deserved their win in front of their home crowd which brings them to within one point behind the Eels on the ladder.
In other games, Pikiao Warriors were humiliated by the powerful Pacific Sharks in Tokoroa 60-16, Ngongotaha's woes continued in getting belted 62-6 by competition leaders Hamilton City Tigers in Rotorua, Hamilton United caused an upset by defeating Ngaruawahia's Turangawaewae 24-22 in a nailbiter with second placed Taniwharau sitting out the round with a bye.
This week Otumoetai Eels host Pacific in an almost must-win game to stay in fourth, Taniwharau are at home in Huntly to Ngongotaha, Hamilton City Tigers travel to Pikiao and Turangawaewae host Taupo.
In the age grades on Sunday, Papamoa Bulldogs are at home to Otumoetai Under-15 in one of the semifinals while Pacific, through a 32-all draw with Otumoetai, sneak into the other semi against Pikiao in Rotorua.
In the under-17 semifinals, Otumoetai travel to Taupo and Pacific are at home to Pikiao.
With the Eels defeating Papamoa in under-15 round robin play, the Bulldogs will be out for revenge at Papamoa, with the winner going to the grand final in Rotorua the next weekend, before the top four teams of each grade meet the top four teams from Waikato's age grade competitions.