The Vodafone Warriors sealed second spot with a convincing 38-10 win over Wests Tigers in today's 25th-round Intrust Super Premiership match at Mount Smart Stadium.
The result sets up a week one finals battle against third-placed Penrith next week.
The Vodafone Warriors' 13th win of the season - along with four draws - lifted them to 36 points, four behind minor premier Wyong.
They opened superbly today against the struggling Wests Tigers.
In just the second minute, the visitors couldn't mop up a Mason Lino kick. It spilled loose and centre Matt Allwood was there to swoop for a gift try.
Seven minutes later, the home side was in good ball territory again, setting up left and going to Lino out the back. He hit standoff Zac Santo - who had been moved into the halves from fullback - and he carved through on an angled run for a great try. Lino converted both for a 12-0 lead.
It became 18-0 in as many minutes when Lino was both the provider and beneficiary of his own work, helped in no small way by a defensive slip-up by the Tigers. His low kick wasn't cleaned up by the visitors, Lino latching onto the scraps and easing away for a try he again converted.
The dominance continued with more tries in the 28th and 34th minutes.
First a double round play and shift to the right gave Allwood a shot. He stepped inside and took three defenders with him for his second try.
Next up was a power play.
Off an attacking scrum, fullback Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad probed and went close. He played it quickly, hooker Sam Cook in at dummy half and dropping off to interchange prop Toaf Sipley coming across behind the ruck from right to left and surging over. With Lino converting it was 28-0 after an outstanding first half performance.
There was more of the same in the opening seven minutes of the second spell.
Going to the left edge, Santo threw a fabulous wide pass hitting wing Bureta Faraimo out on the touchline to score.
In the 47th minute there was more. Sam Cook made a long break out of his own half and soon after second rower Ofa Ogden hit and spun to get over the line.
At 38-0 the score might have been anything.
Instead, with rain beginning to dictate, the Tigers dug in to limit the damage.
They did it so well they didn't conceded any more points in the next 30 minutes and produced two tries of their own.
Victory was only a matter of by how many at that stage as the Vodafone Warriors finished with a 26-point winning margin.
Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland
Vodafone Warriors 38 (Matt Allwood 2, Zac Santo, Mason Lino, Toafofoa Sipley, Bureta Faraimo, Ofahiki Ogden tries; Mason Lino 5 conversions).
Wests Tigers 10 (Christian Yassmin, Nathan Milone tries; Veito Mapesone conversion).
Halftime: 28-0 Vodafone Warriors.
Vodafone Warriors | Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad; Semisi Fotu, Matt Allwood, Junior Pauga, Bureta Faraimo; Zac Santo, Mason Lino (c); Daniel Palavi, Sam Cook, Ligi Sao; Ofahiki Ogden, James Bell; Mafoa'aeata Hingano. Interchange: King Vuniyayawa, Chris Satae, Toafofoa Sipley, Paulos Latu.