Peter is a sports writer at the Bay of Plenty Times

Steamers set for clash with Wellington Lions

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CHARGING: Shahn Eru makes a break for Bay of Plenty Steamers against Northland last Friday in Rotorua. PHOTO:FILE
CHARGING: Shahn Eru makes a break for Bay of Plenty Steamers against Northland last Friday in Rotorua. PHOTO:FILE

Bay of Plenty Steamers will have history against them when they take on Wellington at the cavernous Westpac Stadium from 7.35pm Friday night.

Since the first game played between the unions in 1912, Bay of Plenty have won just five times in 34 attempts, with 27 wins for Wellington and two draws.

Three of those five wins came in consecutive years from 2009 to 2011 - the last time Bay of Plenty defeated Wellington.

But records are there to be broken.

Steamers coaching staff will have reminded the team about 2011, when a talent-laden Lions side left Baypark Stadium declawed after a 32-0 thumping from the Steamers.

Taniela Moa, John Pareanga, Phil Burleigh and Toby Arnold scored the tries that memorable night with Chris Noakes adding the extras with his boot as the Steamers roared to the top of the table.

Steamers head coach Clayton McMillan has smartly decided to give starts to prop Solomona Sakalia, lock Shahn Eru, flanker Henry Stowers, halfback Luke Campbell and midfielder Terrence Hepetema who all grew up in Wellington.

They will have more motivation than any other players to produce the performance of their lives in front of family, friends and past Wellington selectors, who deemed them surplus to requirements at various stages of their careers.

"I guess for them they all have a little chip on their shoulder that hopefully serves as some sort of motivation to go out and do well but behind the scenes we haven't made it a big deal," McMillan said.

"There isn't really enough time to be worried about personal battles and emotion."

It is a return of sorts too for McMillan, who coached Wellington to win the Jock Hobbs Memorial Under-19 tournament before he moved back to Bay of Plenty to take over as Steamers head coach.

"We always know when we go down there it is going to be a bloody hard job but you have to go down there with the expectation you will put your best foot forward and that will get you a result."

Last start the Steamers cracked 50 points in defeating Northland in Rotorua.

While there were positives to take from the win McMillan says "we are still our own worst enemy".

"The game can turn on a dime. When everything is going well for you, you can put 50 points on a team fairly quickly but we gave away a lot of (breakdown) penalties in the first 20 minutes.

"We were lucky to get away with that so while we are happy to put points on the board and get some confidence for the boys, we are acutely aware we need to be a lot more disciplined if we really want to foot it in this competition."

First-five Dan Hollinshead will start at first-five against Wellington after missing three games with a head knock sustained against Taranaki. Te Rangi Fraser is set to play his 15th and blazer game for Bay of Plenty off the bench.

Wellington v Bay of Plenty
Friday, 7.45pm, Westpac Stadium, Wellington
Played: 34, 1912-2015
Bay of Plenty 5 wins, Wellington 27 wins, Draws 2
Last match: Wellington 31 Bay of Plenty 13, October 4, 2015, Mount Maunganui
Last Bay of Plenty win: Bay of Plenty 32 Wellington 0, November 11, 2011, Mount Maunganui

Bay of Plenty Steamers team to play Wellington Lions
1. Solomona Sakalia
2. James O'Reilly
3. Jeff Thwaites
4. Troy Callander
5. Shahn Eru
6. Henry Stowers
7. Hugh Blake
8. Joe Tupe
9. Luke Campbell
10. Dan Hollinshead
11. Regan Ware
12. Terrence Hepetema
13. Nick Evemy
14. Monty Ioane
15. Isaac Te Aute

16. Joseph Royal
17. Aidan Ross
18. Pingi Tala'apitaga
19. Culum Retallick
20. Jesse Parete
21. Ruki Tipuna
22. Kelly Haimona
23. Te Rangi Fraser * blazer game (15 games)

- Bay of Plenty Times

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