Counties Manukau 5
It really is going to take something special to stop Canterbury claiming another provincial title.
Eight of the past nine championships reside in title town, and Canterbury are again the hottest of favourites to further that remarkable dominance this season.
Their ruthless 11 try demolition of Counties Manukau in Christchurch on Wednesday night was the latest crushing blow - coming five days after they thrashed Southland 78-20.
The Ranfurly Shield, New Zealand's oldest and most prestigious rugby trophy, was up for grabs but quickly became an afterthought.
In an example of masterclass support play, Mitchell Drummond scored four first half tries alone as Canterbury's seemingly unstoppable march continued.
Canterbury came into this match averaging 50 points through their first four unbeaten matches and they easily hit that mark again.
This was never a contest. The red and blacks led 43-0 at the break after a procession of tries which included the seventh of the season to former St Kents wing Braydon Ennor, who celebrated joining the Crusaders this week with another classy finish.
The only worrying moment came when captain Luke Whitelock limped off five minutes into the second spell. Prior to that, Whitelock made a typically profound impression with some big hits and telling carries.
Canterbury could do no wrong and did not let up even when the bench was unleashed. They made ground with the rolling maul; broke tackles at will and the speed of their ruck ball allowed the backline to flourish in copious space. Big lock Mitchell Dunshea was again prominent and Tim Bateman bagged a hat-trick to reward his strong performance from centre.
As the scoreline suggests Counties were outplayed throughout and some of their defence was woeful. Even when they threatened to build pressure inaccurate lineout throws or poor finishing let them down. Fullback Luteru Laulala was courageous under the high ball but few others emerged with reputations intact.
Counties have now lost their last four, the sole win coming in the opening match against Auckland.
Canterbury travel to Wellington on Sunday for what should finally prove a decent test.
Then again, on the evidence thus far this season, facing Canterbury does not appear an enticing prospect.
Canterbury 78 (Mitchell Drummond 4, Braydon Ennor, Tim Bateman 3, Rob Thompson, Poasa Waqanibau, Josh McKay tries, Richie Mo'unga pen, con 8)
Counties Manukau 5 (Nigel Ah Wong try)