Stuart Whitaker is a sports reporter for the Bay of Plenty Times and a general reporter for the Bay News.

Bay of Plenty Steamers owe fans a victory as squad enters do-or-die territory in the Cup

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Bay of Plenty Steamers coach Clayton McMillan says the absence of two of his best players for the Manawatu match is a chance for others to step up. Photo / Andrew Warner
Bay of Plenty Steamers coach Clayton McMillan says the absence of two of his best players for the Manawatu match is a chance for others to step up. Photo / Andrew Warner

Architects of their own demise in last week's 44-34 loss to North Harbour, Bay of Plenty Steamers are now in do or die territory.

Despite finishing on the right side of the ledger in tackles made, possession and rucks, the Steamers failed to capitalise, making crucial errors.

To make matters worse, tomorrow's visitors to Rotorua International Stadium, Manawatu, are sure to be on a high after disposing of Wellington 50-28 midweek.

But there has been more bad news this week for coach Clayton McMillan, with his player stocks further diluted with the loss of back row forwards Hugh Blake (broken leg) and Joe Tupe (rib cartilage).

''They are two of our better players, but it is an opportunity for a few of our players who have been in the periphery to step into those boots.''

The Steamers sit in fifth in the Championship, on 13 points, six behind North Harbour in fourth, and can still make the playoffs.

''We haven't worked out how we are still in the running to be perfectly honest,'' said McMillan.

''We probably don't deserve to be in that position, but we were competitive in a number of games earlier on in the season and the accumulation of those bonus points have kept us in the hunt.

"We know that we've played well in patches in the last six or seven weeks and are confident in the ability of our team, but we need to show a lot more desperation and a lot more desire to get a result, not just for ourselves, but for our supporters and stakeholders. We owe it to a lot of people to stay in the hunt by getting a victory."


McMillan knows a bonus point victory from Sunday's game will put pressure on the teams above.

''But we've got to focus on winning first and foremost, and if the opportunity presents itself, to go for a bonus.''


The details
Bay of Plenty v Manawatu: Sunday October 9, 4.35pm
Rotorua International Stadium, Rotorua
Played: 29 (1951-2014) Manawatu wins: 10, Bay of Plenty wins: 17, Draws: 2
Last match: Bay of Plenty 29 Manawatu 27, September 3, 2014 in Palmerston North.
Last Manawatu win: Manawatu 30 Bay of Plenty 18, August 18, 2007 in Palmerston North.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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