Northland have avoided the Mitre 10 Cup championship wooden spoon, overwhelming Otago 40-10 in their regular season finale at Whangarei.
With nothing but momentum to play for, the southerners turned in a poor dress rehearsal for their semi-final meeting with Hawke's Bay next week, trailing 26-5 at halftime and failing to stem the flow of points over the second 40 minutes.
Wing Jordan Hyland had a brace of tries before the break and soon after the restart, centre Scott Gregory brought up his second.
Sitting in third on the championship table, Otago could not improve their position nor lose ground to fourth-placed Manawatu.
"We had our opportunities, but just didn't finish and Northland pounced on that," reflected captain Dylan Nel. "There were quite a few new boys coming into the set-up this week.
"We need to flush that and focus on the semis."
But victory for the Taniwha saw them move past Southland and off the bottom of the standings.
Northland 40 (Hyland 2, Gregory 2, Stokes & Matich tries; Debreczeni 5 conversions) Otago 10 (Purdy & Timu tries)