Hawke's Bay Magpies have secured a home semifinal with two rounds remaining in the NPC's regular season.
The Magpies scored 29 unanswered second-half points to defeat Waikato 41-14 at McLean Park on Saturday night, locking up the Ranfurly Shield for summer in the process.
Hawke's Bay made a perfect start to the game, putting the visitors under the pump with a five-metre attacking lineout inside a minute.
That's typically Ash Dixon territory but with the talismanic hooker on his way to Japan, replacement Jacob Devery scored the opening try off the back of a classic rolling maul.
Penalties and some solid defence from both teams killed much of the attacking momentum over the rest of the first 15 minutes.
Eventually, Waikato got themselves in position for their own lineout drive, and hooker Steven Misa crashed over to give them the lead.
The Magpies kept the ball in hand and responded with some direct running, eventually leading to Danny Toala's try in the 22nd minute.
The NPC's leading try scorer, Liam Coombes-Fabling, put the visitors back in front five minutes later after a strong Waikato scrum from close range.
Hawke's Bay lacked the attacking efficiency they have shown all season and were lucky not to be further behind at halftime when Waikato first five D'Angelo Leuila missed a penalty shot at goal.
The message from Magpies assistant coach Josh Syms at the break was for his team to be collectively better in all facets of the game, rather than play as individuals as they had in the first half.
Both sides looked to kick for territory early in the second, with the first 10 minutes playing out like a chess match.
Hawke's Bay's attack finally clicked with some good phase play before Pouri Rakete-Stones lost the ball forward in traffic close to the tryline.
Waikato's Rupeni Tamani then illegally entered a ruck from the side, right in front of the posts, allowing Lincoln McClutchie to kick a penalty goal that put the Magpies back in front by a point.
More ill-discipline from the visitors allowed Hawke's Bay to seize the momentum, and a brilliant cross kick from McClutchie picked out his Moana Pasifika team-mate Neria Foma'i for a try in the 62nd minute.
Captain Tom Parsons made a big call to kick for touch from a penalty rather than take another shot at goal and it paid off when he scored the bonus point try after more good phases.
Waikato lock James Tucker earned himself a yellow card for taking a Magpies player out in the air from the resulting kickoff, meaning they would finish the game with 14 men.
That created extra space out wide and substitute Ollie Sapsford cashed in for a try after some great work from Josh Kaifa and Marino Mikaele-Tu'u.
The rout was on now with another try to Foma'i from a familiarly brilliant long-range counter-attack, and while Toala received a yellow card for a silly shoulder charge on full-time, it was another night to remember for the Magpies.
They can make sure they finish top of the table by picking up a bonus point from next week's game against Manawatū in Palmerston North.
Hawke's Bay 41 (Devery, Toala, Foma'i 2, Parsons, Sapsford tries; McClutchie 4/5 cons, 1/1 pen, Makene 0/1 con)
Waikato 14 (Misa, Coombes-Fabling tries; Leuila 2/2 cons, 0/1 pen)