The battle for semifinal spots in the Baywide Premier 1 competition could not be closer.
Therefore, when fifth-placed Te Puke hosted fourth-placed Mount Maunganui in the penultimate round on Saturday, both sides knew a win would be vital if they were to have any say in where they finish in the standings.
Mount Maunganui started the game strongly but Te Puke grew in stature throughout to hold on for what could be a season-defining 32-22 win.
Te Puke manager Ross Flexman said the win was "very crucial".
"That puts us back in the top four now and if we hang on next week, we'll know we're in semifinals. The bonus point is a big thing too, to get that.
"The boys stuck to their plan and we said at halftime that Mount had all the possession but no points so we just had to attack them and turn it around."
He was full of praise for the opposition.
"We knew they were going to come out firing, they're very strong. We knew it could go either way and it went ours.
"I think the whole forward pack played well and gained good ball for the backs to use which is what they trained for."
Mount Maunganui started the game strongly, dominating possession and territory, and tries to flanker Josh Tye and No 8 Hugh Blake had them leading 12-0 after 15 minutes.
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Te Puke had plenty of ball but struggled for to make an incision until, 25 minutes in, flanker Connor Woodman charged through on the back of an offload to score his side's first try.
The two sides traded another try each and Mount Maunganui held a slim 17-14 lead at halftime.
Te Puke first five Jason Robertson is so often the difference for his side and that was the case again early in the second half. He sliced through a gap to score 10 minutes into the half before kicking back-to-back penalties to give his side a 25-17 lead.
Half an hour into the second half, Mount Maunganui's Jared Bekhuis drove over the try line from close range to reduce the deficit to 22-25, ensuring a nervy final 10 minutes for the home side.
However, Te Puke held their nerve. A converted try to Dylan Williams made it 32-22, securing the win and sending the home crowd wild as their playoff dream was kept alive.
With the victory, Te Puke leapfrog Mount Maunganui and Greerton into third place, meaning their destiny will be in their own hands going into the final weekend of round-robin play.
Mount Maunganui captain Josh Tye said he could not fault the effort of his side but they did not make the most of their opportunities.
"We didn't clear crucial rucks and probably tried to play a bit too much footy in our own half during the middle period. It was just a tough day, not getting across the line in the end."
He said there were positives to take into their final round-robin match against Whakarewarewa this weekend.
"We created and stuck to our shape, when we held on to the ball we created good opportunities and got across the advantage line. It's just the small things and next week we have to come in clear-headed, learn from this and take care of business and hope the other results go our way."
It was just a tough day, not getting across the line in the end.
Te Puke will not be short of motivation this weekend as they host close neighbours Rangiuru, who will be eager to upset their cross-town rivals.
Flexman expected a hard-fought encounter.
"We just need to make sure we get our win and finish as far up the table as we can. The boys will be up for it, definitely."
Baywide Rugby Results
Whakarewarewa 34 Rangataua 10, Te Puke Sports 32 Mount Maunganui 22, Te Puna 48 Greerton Marist 5, Tauranga Sports 45 Rangiuru 27.
Premier 1 Development:
Whakarewarewa 26 Rangataua 21, Te Puke Sports 27 Mount Maunganui 22, Te Puna 39 Greerton Marist 22, Tauranga Sports 80 Rangiuru 0.
Waikite 17 Te Teko 27, Ngongotahā 10 Marist St Michael's 10, Arataki 62 Kahukura 24, Ōpōtiki 15 Ruatoki 17.
Premier 2 Development:
Waikite 10 Te Teko 68, Ngongotahā 43 Marist St Michael's 18, Arataki 52 Kahukura 48, Ōpōtiki 31 Ruatoki 24.
Rotoiti 7 Reporoa 69, Poroporo 19 Paroa 24, Whakatāne Marist 20 Murupara 17, Pāpāmoa 10 vs Judea 65.
Waimana 10 Eastern Districts 30, Matata 12 Galatea/Waiohau 27, Edgecumbe 29 Katikati 29.
Senior Reserves Semifinals:
Matakana 28 Tauranga Sports 17, Te Puna 39 Greerton Marist 27.