Auckland will wait nervously on the result of North Harbour’s Shield challenge against Canterbury on Sunday to see if they will play in the NPC semis after a 35-11 win over Taranaki.
The defending champions moved into fourth spot after the bonus point win over the Bulls tonight, but if neighbours Harbour beat Canterbury and lift the shield on Sunday they will book a spot in the semis at the expense of Auckland.
For either side, the table-topping Tasman Mako await in the semis.
The Bulls have their own semi-final equation in the championship, with Taranaki needing Counties Manukau to beat or draw with Manawatu and keep the Turbos from securing a bonus point.
Tonight’s match in New Plymouth was an arm wrestle in the first half with just three points separating the sides as Auckland took an 11-8 lead at halftime.
The second half was a very different story with Auckland running in 27 unanswered points with Adrian Choat, Salesi Rayasi and Jordan Trainor crossing for tries while Harry Plummer finished with 11 points.