Mitre 10 Cup: Auckland thrash North Harbour for premiership honours

Auckland have secured regular-season honours and top seeding for the Mitre 10 Cup playoffs, with a rampant 45-29 win over neighbours North Harbour at Eden Park.

Needing victory to finish atop the premiership table, the home side showed no mercy on their rivals, who had inflicted an embarrassing 47-point hiding in last season's 'Battle of the Bridge' fixture.

Harbour have never achieved consecutive wins over Auckland and were already out of playoff contention before kick-off, but began the better, in terms of possession and territory.

Goalkicker Bryn Gatland twice hit the uprights, but his side led early, through a try by prop Lua Li after 10 minutes.

But their lead lasted only seven minutes, before Auckland halfback Jonathan Ruru crossed for his team's opening try and captain TJ Faiane followed a few moments later.

Faiane had his second just before half-time, but Harbour fullback Shaun Stevenson also scored after the siren, closing the margin to 19-15 at the break.

The second half belonged to Auckland, as they ran in 21 unanswered points - three converted tries - for a 40-15 lead, with 20 minutes remaining.

Harbour showed some life, when Auckland flanker Dalton Papali'i was yellow-carded and second-five Harrison Groundwater scored the visitors' only try of the half.

But Auckland wing Salesi Rayasi's second try - a superb diving effort in the corner - extinguished any suggestion of a miraculous comeback.

Auckland now host Wellington in next week's premiership semis, with Tasman facing defending champions Canterbury in Nelson.   

Auckland 45 (Salesi Rayasi 2, TJ Faiane 2, Jordan Trainor, Robbie Abel & Jonathan Ruru tries; Harry Plummer five conversions) North Harbour 29 (Lua Li, Shaun Stevenson, Harrison Groundwater & Tony Tuungafasi tries; Bryn Gatland three conversions & penalty)