Never has a zero looked so good.

While Bay of Plenty supporters are still crowing about the record 57-0 scoreline over Southland on Wednesday, defensive coach Rodney Gibbs was happiest about the duck egg beside Southland's name on the screen at Rotorua International Stadium.

To hold the opposition scoreless is the ultimate goal every match for Gibbs. To do it against a side that has had the wood over the Steamers in recent years made it doubly satisfying.

"That was something we have been working towards. It is important that we keep getting better and keep growing. It has been a bit of a roller coaster through the year so far. I have been challenging the boys to get a bit of consistency," Gibbs said.

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"That was a good defensive effort but the challenge now is to keep those standards up."

While it was hardly a vintage Southland outfit, and they played 36 minutes of the second half with 14 players after Elliott Dixon was sent off, the damage was done earlier in the match by the intensity of the Bay of Plenty defensive line.

Gibbs said communication and trust between the players was a key part of the system.

"That is the case in any team environment and comes when they start gelling and believing in each other and the systems we have got. That is starting to come together well."

This Sunday Bay of Plenty will look to continue their drive towards a home semifinal in the Championship division when they host Counties Manukau at Tauranga Domain in a rare afternoon kick-off.

The Steelers will offer a far sterner test than Southland did and are desperate to get some points to try and move off the bottom of the Premiership table.

"It will be a great test. The boys were already talking about it after the [Southland] game. We all know the complexities of this season and the short turn-around so I don't think anyone uses that as an excuse now," Gibbs said.

"It was a real mental shift over the last few days, making sure we are mentally fresh to be able to physically compete, which is important against teams like Counties that bring a physical nature to the game."

Bay of Plenty Rugby is hosting a special heritage function on Sunday for 47 former Bay of Plenty representatives who played against the British and Irish Lions teams of 1959, 1966, 1971, 1977, 1983 and 2005.

The Steamers will be wearing replicas of the jerseys worn by Bay of Plenty teams in the 1970s and 1980s.

Bay of Plenty team v Counties Manukau

1. Solomona Sakalia (32), 2. Liam Polwart (9), 3. Jeff Thwaites (15), 4. Culum Retallick (108), 5. Keepa Mewett (28) - Captain, 6. Tom Franklin (6), 7. Hugh Blake (14), 8. Jesse Parete (14), 9. Richard Judd (5), 10. Mike Delany (67) , 11. Joe Webber (5), 12. Terrence Hepetema (13), 13. Lalakai Foketi (24), 14. Elijah Nicholas (11), 15. Chase Tiatia (20)
Reserves: 16. James O'Reilly (13), 17. Aidan Ross (15), 18. James Lay (4), 19. Troy Callander (17), 20. Mattie Axtens (5), 21. Luke Campbell (10), 22. Matthew Gatland (0), 23. Isaac Te Aute (15)


Bay of Plenty v Counties Manukau
Tauranga Domain, Sunday, 2.35pm kick-off
Tickets: www.ticketmaster.co.nz or at the gate
Adult: $20, student $10, child (15 years and under) $5, under-5 free
Ticket holders travel free on all Bayhopper buses to and from the game with their game ticket

BOP Volcanix v Tasman
Farah Palmer Cup, 12.05pm kick-off.