Whakarewarewa's quest for a Premier 1 semifinal spot will come down to the last game after a 41-24 loss to Te Puna.
Going into Saturday's game at Puarenga Park, second-placed Te Puna knew a win over fourth-placed Whakarewarewa would go a long way towards securing a top-four finish.
Te Puna showed a willingness to spin the ball wide from the get-go, but handed Whakarewarewa an early attacking opportunity when they put a kick out on the full from deep inside their own half.
Whakarewarewa took full advantage when centre Dennon Robinson-Bartlett hit a gap and passed to flanker Slade Apo who produced a perfect inside pass for Matthew Garland to score under the posts.
Ten minutes into the half Te Puna won a penalty 40m out and in front of the posts which they kicked to reduce the deficit to 7-3. Whakarewarewa hit back with a penalty of their own and led 10-3.
With 15 minutes left in the half Te Puna started to pile on the pressure and made the breakthrough with a try to winger Tana Tuhakaraina on the back of a great pass from first five Reece Macdonald.
Right on halftime, Te Puna took a 17-10 lead when centre Will Ngatai scored from close range. After a slow start, they were beginning to look the better side.
The sides scored a try each early in the second half and with Te Puna leading 22-17 it was game on.
With 20 minutes left to play, Te Puna showed why they were unbeaten in the first round. They had all the territory and possession and were being expertly directed around the field by Macdonald who had a standout game at first five.
Te Puna scored two tries in quick succession to race out to a 34-17 lead. Whakarewarewa hit back with a try to Apo before Te Puna scored the try of the game to put the result beyond doubt. They broke up the left, put a kick in which fullback Rewita Biddle chased down to score and make it 41-24.
Te Puna coach Aidan Kuka said he was proud of his side's performance.
"Coming to Puarenga Park, no win is ever guaranteed, you have to work hard here and I was really proud of the boys today - they did the jersey justice and themselves justice.
"I thought we defended well and that gave us energy when we did get the ball to convert that into points. I was really impressed with that. All year we've just been performing as a team, we firmly believe it's team first and anything that comes out of it will come because of the team effort," Kuka said.
He said the team's focus now would be on securing a home semifinal.
"We want to go hard now and finish the season strong like we started the season."
Whakarewarewa coach Boxer Smith said the better side won on the day.
"It was a good game. They're a quality team, Te Puna, and you can see why they've only lost two games this season. It was a tough day at the office for us, I think we showed what we need to work on to really compete at that top-four level.
"The good thing about it is we have one more week, we get another chance [to make the semifinals] against Tauranga Sports next week. The boys tried hard today and I have to give them their dues for that, we were just beaten by a better team on the day and that just shows how close this competition is," Smith said.
Farmlands Co-operative Baywide Club Rugby Results
Rotoiti 21 Te Puke Sports 64
Rangataua 24 Tauranga Sports 42
Whakarewarewa 24 Te Puna 41
Greerton Marist 15 Mount Maunganui Sports 21
Premier 1 Development
Rotoiti 0 Te Puke Sports 78
Rangataua 17 Tauranga Sports 51
Whakarewarewa 21 Te Puna 58
Greerton Marist 24 Mount Maunganui Sports 29
Arataki 8 Opōtiki 27
Ngongotahā 17 Te Teko 18
Marist St Michael's 29 Waikite 15
Rangiuru 62 Whakatāne Marist 19
Premier 2 Development
Arataki 32 Opōtiki 35
Ngongotahā 22 Te Teko 15
Marist St Michael's 33 Waikite 14
Rangiuru 43 Whakatāne Marist 14
Kahukura 27 Waimana 10
Ruatoki 77 Poroporo 22
Paroa 37 Murupara 15
Pāpāmoa 7 Judea 32
Eastern Pirates Eastern Districts - no result received
Katikati 55 Matata 5
Reporoa 59 Edgecumbe 5