The chances of Taranaki hosting a NPC semifinal all but evaporated after Wednesday night's 46-10 thumping at the hands of Waikato.
With the Ranfurly Shield having also headed north, two of the squad's goals for the season look beyond them.
With 10 days left in the round-robin stage of the NPC, there are several scenarios. If Waikato win their two remaining games - against Counties Manukau and Hawke's Bay - and gain two bonus points, they have a chance of overtaking Taranaki despite still being nine points behind.
Taranaki have to pick themselves up from their midweek walloping to play Southland in Invercargill on Sunday. If they lose that match, they face the prospect of having to beat Wellington in the capital - something they have never done since the NPC started in 1976 - just to make the playoffs. Wellington, Auckland and Canterbury have reasonable runs home and appear to be in a dogfight to host a home semifinal.
If two or more teams finish equal on points in the top four, the team who gets the home advantage is the team who won the round-robin match between the two. That puts Taranaki at a disadvantage against Wellington and Auckland, as well as Waikato, if they can come back to earth and muster two wins.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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