Auckland have kept their Mitre 10 Cup title defence alive with a 35-11 victory over Taranaki.

Needing a win to maintain their chance of making the Premiership semifinals, Auckland trailed 11-8 at halftime, and only led 15-11 with 15 minutes to go.

However, two penalties from Harry Plummer made the margin safer, before two late tries to Salesi Rayasi and Jordan Trainor made the scoreline more emphatic, and gave Auckland a bonus point.

The win puts Auckland into fourth on 29 points, and eliminates Waikato's slim semifinal prospects. Now, the only team that can jump into the top four is North Harbour, on 26 points, but they face the daunting prospect of having to beat Canterbury to do so.


If they manage it, they will come away with a slew of prizes - with the Ranfurly Shield also on the line, as well as the surely sought-after feeling of denying Auckland a semifinal spot.

The defeat puts Taranaki at risk of missing the Championship semifinals, with Manawatu able to leapfrog them into fourth if they beat Counties Manukau, who have nothing to play for, having already been relegated from the Premiership.

Taranaki v Auckland as it happened: