Hawke's Bay have produced a quality defensive performance to out-muscle Counties Manukau in Pukekohe, claiming a 22-10 Mitre 10 Cup win.
The loss puts Counties Manukau six points behind Waikato in premiership standings, with just one week remaining, meaning they will drop to the championship next season.
The Magpies forwards set up the first try, when Gareth Evans earned a lineout steal and Tom Parsons burrowed his way over to score the opener.
The pack doubled the score eight minutes later, with captain Ash Dixon driving over off a lineout maul.
A dangerous tackle from Marino Mikaele-Tu'u saw the flanker sent to the bin just before half time, inviting Counties back into the game.
But they weren't able to capitalise, remaining scoreless in the 10 minutes they had their one-man advantage.
The visitors kept defending whatever Counties threw at them, showing why they sit atop the championship ladder.
Substitute Tiaan Falcon made his presence felt when he entered the game just after the break. The 22-year-old carved through the defence, beating half a dozen defenders, before setting up Folau Fakatava to extend the lead to 22-3 after 66 minutes.
The home side finally broke the Magpies defence to score their only try of the night. Off a rare lineout win, they put a couple of phases together, before Johnny Kawau scored under the posts.
But the try was too little too late, with Counties falling to their eighth loss of the season.
Both sides play their final regular-season matches next Saturday. Counties take on Manawatu in Palmerston North, as they look to finish their season on a high.
Hawke's Bay host Tasman in a mouth-watering clash at Napier.
Hawke's Bay 22 (Tom Parsons, Ash Dixon, Folau Fakatava tries; Lincoln McClutchie conversion, Tiaan Falcon one conversion, one penalty)
Counties Manukau 10 (Johnny Kawau try; Orbyn Leger one penalty one conversion)