Tasman have stamped their mark as a title contender, moving to the top of the Mitre 10 Cup Premiership with a 28-22 victory over Wellington tonight.
Runners-up the past two seasons, Tasman added the scalp of Wellington to their first round defeat of Canterbury, showing they have what it takes to topple the big guns come semifinals time.
While Auckland are just two points behind with a game in hand, Tasman have just Otago and Hawke's Bay left on their schedule, and are odds-on to secure home advantage into the playoffs after seeing off Wellington's attempted second-half comeback.
Chiefs winger Solomon Alaimalo was a thorn in the side of Wellington, and it was his try directly after halftime which proved pivotal as Tasman created what turned out to be an unassailable advantage.
Wellington, who couldn't discover the attacking menace which had seen them score 30 points in all of their last five games, sit in third spot in the Premiership, but are now just four points ahead of fifth-placed North Harbour, who crushed Taranaki 55-26.
Tevita Li ran in four tries for Harbour, who decimated Taranaki's defence on their way to five valuable points which keeps them in the hunt for the semifinals. Both Wellington and Harbour still have to play Auckland, while Taranaki remain in last place in the Premiership, a point behind Counties Manukau, who have a winnable game against Northland tomorrow.
Taranaki, now losers of five straight games, have to play Canterbury and Wellington to finish their season, and barring a sudden resurgence in form, look likely to be relegated to the Championship.
Tasman 28 (F Christie, S Alaimalo, J Norris, J Akau'ola-Laula tries; M Hunt con, 2 pens)
Wellington 22 (X Numia, G Taufale, T Umaga-Jensen tries; J Garden-Bachop 2 cons, pen)
North Harbour 55 (T Li 4, D Hunt 2, D Hilton Jones, M Duffie, M Telea tries; B Gatland 5 cons)
Taranaki 26 (R Ware, M Mataele, B Waaka, J Parete tries; Waaka 3 cons)