Northern Wairoa will make the most of their shot at rugby league finals this weekend, after a 32-10 win over Hora Hora propelled them into a creditable third-placed finish on Sunday.
Reaching the playoffs isn't a common occurrence for the Bulls in the Whangarei and Districts senior competition, so it was cause for celebration.
"We're very happy to finally reach the finals, it's the first time we've done it in about five or six seasons," coach John Edwards said.
It hasn't always been plain sailing for Northern Wairoa this season. Their home form has been second to none but they have squandered opportunities to strengthen their position on the table at away matches.
With so much riding on the final match of the round-robin competition, there were a few nerves on show at the beginning of the match at Hora Hora Park.
"We started pretty badly. It wasn't easy in the wet conditions but once we stopped dropping the ball and got our first try we settled down and started playing and we soon scored again," Edwards said.
Once ahead, they weren't giving up their lead and their defence was good enough to keep an improving Hora Hora at bay for most of the game.
Bay Slayers finished their season on a high note by upsetting Takahiwai at Ruakaka 23-22 on Saturday.
While the upset result did little for the Slayers - they finished comfortably mid-table - it cost Takahiwai second place in the competition and unless there is any further drama in the committee room they will be drawn against Northern Wairoa in the third and fourth place playoff this weekend.
Hikurangi underlined their credentials with a comfortable 56-26 win over City Knights to finish the regular season eight points clear of their closest rival for the minor premiership.
Hokianga Pioneers took advantage of Takahiwai's stumble to finish the competition in second place after a 58-24 win over Otaua. They will play minor premiers Hikurangi in this weekend's first and second playoff match with the winner going into the final and the loser playing the winner of the third and fourth-placed match.
In other matches, Kaikohe defaulted to Moerewa handing the Tigers a dreadful end to their season. The Tigers looked certain to feature in the playoffs for most of the season only to falter at the last hurdle. They had four points deducted for fielding ineligible players but have appealed.
If there is no change, they will finish fifth - level on 27 points with Takahiwai - but the Ruakaka club has a superior point's differential.
The other scheduled match over the weekend wasn't played after Marist's recent suspension. The Muriwhenua Falcons picked up two easy points which pushed them above City Knights into sixth.