More than 5000 people piled into Tauranga Domain to watch their Bay of Plenty Steamers take on the Mitre 10 Cup Premiership defending champions Canterbury and if it was entertaining rugby they sought, they were not disappointed.
The weather played its part and so did the players as they went hammer and tong for 80 minutes with Canterbury coming out on top 31-19 this afternoon.
It took just a minute and a half for Canterbury to produce a scoring opportunity. They created an overlap on the left and winger Caleb Makene dived for the corner, but replays showed he went out of play before grounding the ball.
Canterbury kept the pressure on and it paid off when they worked the ball right, where they had a big overlap, and winger Josh McKay strolled over for one of the easier tries he'll score. First five Brett Cameron converted to make it 7-0.
The Steamers had an opportunity to hit straight back, winning a penalty just outside the 22m and in front of the posts. However, first five Mike Delany's radar was off and he missed the shot at goal.
Bay of Plenty worked their way into the game and after 17 minutes they were on the board through tackle-breaking machine Chase Tiatia.
He received the ball off the back of the scrum and trampled defenders on his way to the try line. Delany converted and it was all locked up at 7-all.
The Steamers went straight back on the attack, piling the pressure on deep inside Canterbury territory.
Twenty-seven minutes into the half the Steamers finally cracked the defensive line as Tyler Ardron crashed over on the right-hand side to make it 12-7.
That try shocked Canterbury back into life and they roared into the Steamers 22m.
The forwards hammered away at the Bay of Plenty defensive line and in the end prop Daniel Lienert-Brown bulldozed his way over next to the posts. Cameron converted to take a 14-12 lead.
It was a beautiful day in Tauranga, conducive to free-flowing footy, and the Steamers looked best when they were supporting each other and popping offloads left, right and centre.
Canterbury had all the possession and territory to end the half but a massive scrum from the Steamers turned over possession, leaving Canterbury with a 14-12 lead at the break.
Five minutes into the second half, the Steamers won a penalty and kicked for touch, 5m from the try line.
After a big maul, halfback Richard Judd took the ball off the back, sucked in defenders and produced a perfect pas to put second five Terrence Hepetema in under the posts. Delany converted to make it a 19-14 lead.
The game continued to see-saw and 16 minutes into the half Canterbury hit back.
After consecutive penalties in the Steamers 22m they worked a neat play on the right to put McKay over for his second.
Cameron converted from wide on the right to take a 21-19 lead.
Canterbury started to exert some dominance and extended the lead to 28-19 with a penalty try from a scrum 5m from the try line.
Cameron kicked a penalty not long after and with 14 minutes left to play Canterbury led 31-19.
Canterbury are too classy a team to let that sort of lead slip often and they wound down the clock to take the win.
Steamers halfback Richard Judd said errors were his side's undoing.
"They showed why they're the defending champs, it was a hard day at the office. I think it was just compounding errors for us, they kept us down in our half and we were just on defence. You can't win the game without the pill.
"There was a lot of ticker in the boys, we didn't give up, and we definitely played some good rugby when we did have the ball."
On the back of spending the Super Rugby season with the Hurricanes, Judd has been one of the outstanding players for the Steamers so far in 2018.
"It's always good being in the Super environment, learning from class players. I know myself I have to have a good season and having the good forward pack that we do, as well as guys like Mike Delany next to me, it makes my job a hell of a lot easier, that's for sure."