Hawke's Bay have been relegated from the Mitre 10 Cup Premiership after a 46-22 defeat at the hands of Waikato tonight.
Waikato came into the contest six points ahead of Hawke's Bay, giving the Magpies feint hopes of survival if they could topple the Mooloos on their own turf.
However, the 24 point defeat merely resigned them to an outcome which has been likely for the majority of the season. Promoted from the Championship in 2015, the cellar-dwellers have conceded 39 points per game on their way to two victories and seven losses.
In truth, relegation is no more than a blow to the ego in the Mitre 10 Cup. Hawke's Bay will largely play the same teams for the same monetary benefit in 2017, a fairly benign fate when compared to the revenue-draining promotion/relegation system which exists in other sporting competitions.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Waikato seem to be trapped in a mediocre purgatory, being good enough to avoid relegation yet lacking the quality to make the semifinals for four straight seasons.
A fifth consecutive middling campaign is still their likely outcome, sitting two points outside of a semifinal spot, but only four points behind second, such is the congested nature of the table.
However, Tasman and Taranaki still have a game in hand, with Waikato requiring a victory over Wellington as well as other results going their way in the final round of the season.
Waikato 46 (I.Ratuva Tavuyara 2, W.Halaholo, T.Koloamatangi, J.Trainor, J.Robertson tries, Trainor 5 con, 2 pen)
Hawke's Bay 22 (Penalty try, T.Lamborn, M.Emerson tries; I.West 2 con, pen)