In my column regarding the disappointing capitulation to an ordinary Southland team, I said the Steamers would be hurting and I hoped for some fire-in-the-belly play and redemption against Auckland.

They produced the rugby but sadly did not get the win, going down 44-38 in an entertaining game in cold and wet conditions in Rotorua on Sunday.

Our boys got off to a good start and dominated the first quarter. Unfortunately they let in 26 unanswered points from 8 minutes before halftime to 15 minutes into the second half, when the game looked like it was heading towards total humiliation.

But redemption came with three more tries to the Bay to set up an exciting finish and gaining two bonus points.


A dominant lineout and scrum saw the Bay with plenty of ball (including a couple off the Auckland lineout throw) and they made good use of it through rumbling forward drives which brought tries, plus other tries from strong scrums.

Rampant running in the loose and linking with the flyers in the backs also broke the Auckland defences.

At one point, around the 65th minute, Auckland were penalised four times in as many minutes for infringing and preventing the Steamers' stronger scrum from scoring from five metres out.

Surely a penalty try should have been awarded and a yellow card issued?

Such was the Bay's forward dominance that Auckland could not have played for 10 minutes with 14 men without conceding more points.

Even an Auckland report on the game stated that they had "dodged a bullet" with the referee not showing the yellow card.

Auckland are strong and fast on the outsides and would trouble any defence but a closer inspection of some of their tries reveals some worrying details.

I am reluctant to criticise any player who is doing his best for his team so will be impersonal.

Apart from his usual wayward goal kicking which, in the final count alone, cost the Bay the win, one player in particular was involved in costly incidents for the Steamers.

He kicked the ball with a 3 on 2 situation outside him while attacking in the Auckland 22 - Auckland scrambled and in the same play scored; he fumbled an easy pick-up and knocked on, Auckland scrum - try; his clearing kick was charged down - Auckland score.

There are options within the Steamers squad and perhaps there should be a re-think with the North Harbour, Manawatu, and Hawkes Bay games yet to come.

With the Steamers forward dominance as shown last Sunday, and their ability to score tries both forward and among the backs against an A List team, I am confident that we will contest the Championship final - and with a good chance of being a Premiership team in 2017.

If the boys match their attack with staunch defence it can happen.

Go The Bay!

Graeme Moore played 114 games for Bay of Plenty from 1967-1980. He is the leading try scorer for the union with 62.