The Canterbury Bulls are in the box seat to make their first national final since 2015 after thumping Waikato 52-6 at Christchurch Stadium on Saturday.
The Bulls are now two from two and the only undefeated team in the National Premiership with one round to play.
Only a heavy loss to Akarana at Christchurch Stadium on Saturday (2pm), and Counties Manukau blitzing Waikato in similar a fashion, would see the Bulls miss out on the October 6 final.
The Bulls last won the title in 2014 by beating the Wai-Coa Bay Stallions 40-8.
For the second week in a row, the Bulls had a flat patch in the middle of the game.
After racing out to a 22-6 advantage by half-time, they had to wait until the last 20min of the game to pile on six tries against a tiring Waikato defence.
Bulls coach Andrew Auimatagi said he backed his players to read the game, but admitted some of the errors if repeated against Akarana would cost them points.
“We just made a few sloppy errors in the ruck and tried to push things a little bit,” he said.
“However, I’ll always back the boys to go for it if they see an opportunity.”
Fullback Tauvale Tauvale and winger Ben Ilalio each scored twice against Waikato. Auimatagi also praised his forward pack for a second consecutive stellar shift. Reuben Te Amo had a big impact off the bench, breaking tackles and making extra metres after contact. “The forwards are on a good roll at the moment and each of them offer something different with a good mix of youth and experience,” Auimatagi said.
“We’ll have to maintain that this week because Akarana have some big forwards that are capable of dominating a game.”