Auckland 35
Waikato 17

Sometimes, the game plays out exactly how it was expected to. Those hoping for a surprise result can tune out around the 60 minute mark, while those who hate surprises can watch happily, knowing who will be taking the points when the final hooter sounds.

Auckland's 35-17 battering of a hapless Waikato side at Eden Park tonight was one of those times.

Historically, matches between Auckland and Waikato have been ones to mark on the schedule. This time around however, there was little to get excited about. The unbeaten, Premiership-leading Auckland side seemed unlikely to be troubled by a Waikato side marooned in the Championship without a win to their name.

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As pedestrian as it was, fans of the rolling maul were well looked after, with three of the seven tries coming as a result of what has become a go-to play within sight of the tryline. Auckland hooker Robbie Abel was the main benefactor, scoring two tries in two minutes from rolling mauls in the dying stages of the first half.

Unsurprisingly, Auckland ran in the first points of the night with fullback Jordan Trainor getting his name on the scoresheet, which he backed up with the first try of the second half as well. Waikato winger Mosese Dawai's first try for the province was a rare highlight for the visitors in the first half, as they trailed 20-7 at the break.

The situation got rather dire for Waikato in the second half when Auckland ran out to a 35-7 lead with tries to Trainor and winger Salesi Rayasi with 15 minutes remaining.

Waikato picked up a couple of consolation tries through Samisoni Taukei'aho — from a rolling maul — and Kylem O'Donnell, but the tries merely made the scoreline look slightly more flattering.

With the loss, Waikato's hopes of playing for promotion this season continued to grow slimmer, with Wellington and Taranaki next on their schedule.

For Auckland, they meet fellow Premiership frontrunners Tasman next week.

Auckland 35 (Jordan Trainor 2, Robbie Abel 2, Salesi Rayasi tries; Harry Plummer con, 2 pens; Jacob Umaga con)
Waikato 17 (Mosese Dawai, Samisoni Taukei'aho, Kylem O'Donnell tries; Fletcher Smith con)
HT: 20-7