Bay of Plenty v Southland. Another game - another loss. Sounds familiar.
Disappointed as I am, I know that our Bay of Plenty players and team officials will be much more so. If ever there was a can-win/must-win game, this was it.
For once the Steamers were not on the wrong end of the penalty count in the first half and had several opportunities to score. That they came to half time 13-3 ahead and seemingly in control boded well. Unfortunately poor kicking in general play and at goal were to cost them dearly in the end.
But it would be unfair to blame the loss solely on the missed kicks. Throughout the second half the Steamers fumbled and bumbled and stumbled around the field showing only glimpses of the competent players that we know them to be.
Wholesale changes, including half the forward pack and several backs, did not improve things. Nor did a couple of referee calls which went against the Bay. One resulted in a sinbinning for an innocuous half-tackle ruled as dangerous.
The Steamers fell from a solid position at halftime to a team in disarray as the second half played out and it was not because Southland were too good.
Basically the teams were evenly matched but Southland grew in confidence and execution and Bay of Plenty did not.
It is not from lack of want or will. Four of the players who were back-up for the Wellington game but not wanted for Southland, drove back to the Bay on Tuesday. I understand that one got a call on Tuesday night to rejoin the team in Invercargill on Wednesday. This he did without question.
I mention this lest it be thought that our boys lack commitment. They do the hard yards on and off the field but have not gained the winning result that was there for them in this and other games.
Our team will be disappointed and this will be hurting them. I hope for some fire-in-the-belly play and redemption against Auckland on Sunday.
For this to happen they need to target it as a must-win and play for 80 minutes.
Graeme Moore played 114 games for Bay of Plenty from 1967-1980. He is the leading try scorer for the union with 62.