Auckland City have opened up a five-point gap at the top of the New Zealand football Premiership with a 3-1 win over Hawke's Bay United in Napier on Waitangi Day.
The result leaves City as strong favourites to secure their fourth minor premiership and the guaranteed qualification spot for next season's Oceania League that goes with it.
However, should Auckland City win minor premiership and Grand Final titles, New Zealand's second O-League berth will fall to the league runners-up, currently Canterbury United Dragons.
Auckland's win over cross town rivals Waitakere United 3-1 at Kiwitea St on Saturday, combined with Canterbury United and Team Wellington's victories over Hawke's Bay and Waikato FC, means the jostle for the coveted runners-up spot and semi-final positions has intensified.
With four rounds left, only three points separates Canterbury, Waitakere and Wellington, with Waitakere to face both those opponents at home before the end of the regular season in the knowledge that whoever finishes second nabs a potential O-League lifeline. A fourth place finish would mean a home and away semi-final with the minor premiers and a Grand Final win as the only means of qualifying for the O-League.