As far as pre-season performances go today's 49-26 victory by the Bay of Plenty Steamers over Northland in Whakatane ticked plenty of boxes.

The opening 40 minutes of the new season sizzled with direction and accuracy.

There was plenty to like about the slick combinations shown by the Steamers, as they ran in seven tries all converted by first-five Dan Hollinshead to lead 42-12 at the break.

But a multitude of changes in the second spell curtailed the momentum and with Northland beefing up their side with better players like Blues flanker Kara Pryor, the second half was more a war of attrition.


Northland lacked any commitment on defence in the first half and looked like they were still getting over their long bus trip.

Steamers lock Shahn Eru was a standout in broken play, making several line breaks with No 8 Joe Tupe scoring two tries.

On debut his loose forward mates Jesse Parete and Hugh Blake impressed, with former Scottish international sevens player Blake showing his all-round skills.

The combination between debut halfback Luke Campbell and first-five Hollinshead was assured while Ruki Tipuna looked sharp when he came on to replace Campbell in the second half.

On the debit side Northland found too much space out wide through some defensive lapses that will need plugging.

Steamers coaches Clayton McMillan, Rodney Gibbs and David Hill would have been most pleased their new-look squad have now had a game together without injury concerns.

Next Friday they will face a far sterner test when they play Auckland but so far so good.

One player pleased to get a run in the second half was experienced lock Culum Retalick who has returned from a Super Rugby season with the Melbourne Rebels.

Retalick, who will start the Mitre 10 Cup on 92 matches for the Bay, was impressed with the first half performance.

"We showed if we hold onto the ball we have got good continuity," he said.

"The shape we are trying to play looks pretty good so if we can hold onto the ball I think we are going to score tries, there is no doubt about that."

The Steamers have a camp in Auckland next week before they play Auckland which Retalick says will be ideal to lift the intensity further.

"We will find out where we are as they will have plenty of Super Rugby players. It will be a good test for us.

"The group looks really good. The boys have done a lot of hard work, they are in good nick and I just have to keep up now."

The Steamers open their Mitre 10 Cup campaign against Taranaki at Tauranga Domain on Saturday August 20.

Bay of Plenty 49 (Joe Tupe 2, Shahn Eru, Hugh Blake, Te Rangi Fraser, Luke Campbell, Lalakai Foketi tries; Dan Hollinshead 7 con) Northland 26 (Chris Apoua, Solomon Alaimolo, Josh Larsen, Sam Nock tries; Peter Breen 3 cons) HT: 42-12