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A second-half flurry proved from the hosts undid Southern United in its final game of the season.
The side was beaten 3-0 by Eastern Suburbs at Riverhills Park in Auckland on Saturday.
Southern, looking to avenge a 6-1 defeat in the last meeting between the teams, had a strong first hour.
It created an early chance and then had a shout for a penalty turned down, after a Suburbs defender swung his arm and made contact with the ball.
That good start continued after a scoreless first half, but Suburbs struck first.
Callum McCowatt buried one from the spot just after the hour mark, following what Southern assistant coach Terry Boylan said was a "dubious penalty''.
The ball had made contact with a Southern defender's hand, although his hand had not moved.
That had been "hard to swallow'' after Southern's shout for a first half penalty was turned down.
From there, Suburbs added two more in quick succession to take the game away from Southern.
Boylan said both were classy counterattack goals, as Suburbs showed their threat across the park.
The first came after they played the ball around for McCowatt to add his second - his 18th of the season.
Shortly afterwards Andre de Jong finished at the far post, after the Southern defence was slow to react in covering.
While it was a disappointing result, it was a young Southern side which took the field.
It was without key midfielders Danny Ledwith and Tony Whitehead and Azariah Soromon was away with the Vanuatu national team.
Boylan felt the side had done well for the majority of the game.
However, he said Suburbs deserved the win and showed why they finished the season in second place on the league table.
"Obviously, if you put your chances away early, the result can be different. But Eastern Suburbs are a decent side. They played some good football.
"Our guys were out on their feet after the 60th, 70th minute. They worked really hard, did really well.''
The result had no bearing on the overall table, leaving Southern in fifth place on 23 points.
That leaves it six points clear of sixth, but 11 off the top four.
Boylan said the side was pleased to have backed up its placing from last season.
The work and effort of the players could not be faulted and they had done ``exceedingly well''.
Despite that, he said it would have liked to get some more points and crack the top four.