The Bay of Plenty Steamers cannot finish outside the top four in the Mitre 10 Cup Championship but they are not thinking about semifinals just yet.
Tomorrow, they host Manawatu at the Tauranga Domain, the second to last round robin game and one which could be crucial in determining where in the top four they end up. It is also part of a double header as the Bay of Plenty Volcanix also host Manawatu, in the Farah Palmer Cup, in the early kickoff.
A bonus point win for the Steamers will secure a home semifinal, as third-placed Otago won't be able to catch them. It would also give them a good shot at finishing first as table-toppers Hawke's Bay finish their round robin against Tasman next week.
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However, head coach Clayton McMillan said his side's sole focus was on getting the job done against Manawatu.
"I'm not too focused on where we finish on the points table. We know we can take the lead but ultimately, we must keep performing to make that a reality," McMillan said.
"So, we can't worry about what's happening with Hawke's Bay. We just have to respect the opposition teams we have over the next couple of weeks and not become complacent."
McMillan said it was important not to get too far ahead of themselves.
"Our experience in the past has seen us start the season well and then we've dropped the ball, or we have not started so well and come home with a wet sail.
"We want to avoid both those situations and get consistency with our performance and take one game at a time. That has been our focus this season."
Stan van den Hoven, Chris Eves and Joe Johnson are set for their Steamers' debuts from the bench and McMillan said the trio had shown great commitment to the team, biding their time for an opportunity to play.
"They are naturally excited but they have prepared this week, the same way they have every week. It's not easy to be involved with a team and not being named week in and week out.
"They have shown great commitment to training and community engagement. Their teammates are excited for them because they know how hard they have worked to earn their spot."
Despite Manawatu sitting in fifth, McMillan was not expecting the match to be a walk in the park.
"They are the most improved side in the competition over the last couple of weeks. They had a slow start to the season but they have started to find some form, they had a good victory over Canterbury, down there, which isn't an easy feat.
"They are a much-improved side and have a smart coach and a really good roster. If they can keep all their players out on the field, they will be a threat."
- Supplied content
Bay of Plenty Rugby Double Header
Saturday, October 5
Farah Palmer Cup:
Bay of Plenty Volcanix v Manawatu
Mitre 10 Cup:
Bay of Plenty Steamers v Manawatu
1. Aidan Ross (C) (32)
2. Kurt Eklund (8)
3. Ross Geldenhuys (16)
4. Baden Wardlaw (16)
5. Alex Ainley (6)
6. Aaron Carroll (17)
7. Hugh Blake (32)
8. Hoani Matenga (16)
9. Richard Judd (25)
10. Kaleb Trask (12)
11. Joe Ravouvou (6)
12. Chase Tiatia (43)
13. Mathew Skipwith-Garland (15)
14. Emoni Narawa (9)
15. Pryor Collier (3)
16. Nathan Vella (5)
17. Tevita Mafileo (7)
18. Chris Eves * (0)
19. Stan van den Hoven * (0)
20. Abraham Papali'i (4)
21. Joe Johnson * (0)
22. Leroy Carter (7)
23. Jason Robertson (11)
1. Angel Mulu (10)
2. Luka Connor (29)
3. Janina Khan (35)
4. Karli Faneva (4)
5. Kelsie Wills (4)
6. Kendra Reynolds (C) (29)
7. Tynealle Fitzgerald (VC) (8)
8. Natalie Delamere (11)
9. Jade Tuilaepa ** (14)
10. Arorangi Tauranga (3)
11. Autumn-Rain Stephens-Daly (20)
12. Layla Te Riini * (0)
13. Danielle Paenga (4)
14. Natalie Walford (4)
15. Sapphire Tapsell (24)
16. Lily Florence (24)
17. Baye Jacob (22)
18. Braxton Walker (10)
19. Tracey Lemon (3)
20. Christie Yule (23)
21. Tania-Rose Raharuhi (18)
* Denotes debut
** Denotes blazer game – 15 games
() Denotes games played