The Coastline Mariners want a winning finish to their North Island Championship rugby league campaign in Kawerau this weekend.
The Mariners were beaten 38-14 by competition leaders the Wellington Orcas in Wellington on Saturday and play their final game of the competition in the Eastern Bay this Saturday.
The game was level at 10-all on Saturday before the Wellington side pulled away. Mariners coach Jock Nicholson is rapt with the fight his side has shown against tough opposition this season.
"We are competing, that is the pleasing part. They were big blokes and that was a bit of a learning curve for us. There was more improvement from the week before and it has been great to see that progression.
"We are not looking out of place in this competition.
"We just have to keep going and grinding away doing the basics, defence is a key factor in this competition. You give them half a chance and they can just destroy you."
Nicholson is hoping his team can close their season with a win on Saturday but wants to see the improvement continue.
"The boys are loving it and we have built up a really good team culture. They have really resonated and connected with each other.
"For me it is senior and individual players putting in that extra effort. When you are tired and under the pump that is when you need to shine – make that extra tackle or run that support line. It is the continued effort we are looking for as well as communication and working for one another.
"You always have work-ons after games. We have gone from slow starts to starting well, it is defence again that we need to work on. We have to make sure we man up with two or three to stop these big players."
The Orcas and the Northern Swords clash in Wellington this weekend. Both are unbeaten, and the winner will claim the North Island title.
North Island Championship results for Saturday, September 14:
Wellington Orcas 38, Coastline Mariners 14.
Taranaki Sharks 32, Manawatu Mustangs 30.
Draw for Saturday, September 21:
Coastline Mariners v Manawatu Mustands, Kawerau.
Wellington Orcas v Northern Swords, Wellington.