Bay of Plenty's Mitre 10 Cup Championship semifinal hopes come down to 80 minutes of rugby today.

The Steamers take on perennial rivals Waikato at Tauranga Domain from 2.35pm with a home semifinal at stake if they can beat the Mooloos.

If they do not, they can still make the semifinals if other results go their way or they could miss the playoffs all together.

Waikato have plenty to play for as they look to avoid being relegated from the Premiership division.


In a match like this to be played in front of an expected capacity crowd at the Domain, half the battle is to keep the players' excitement levels under control so the occasion does not get the better of them.

Steamers head coach Clayton McMillan went through plenty of these epic matches during his 113 games for the union so knows exactly the right levels of motivation needed.

"Our boys, and I imagine the Waikato boys, are more than acutely aware of how important the game is to both teams," he said.

"For us it has probably been about keeping a lid on their enthusiasm and making sure their bodies are right. The excitement will just take care of itself."

Last Sunday's impressive 36-28 victory over Otago has given McMillan's team the ideal momentum leading into such an important game.

"There was a bit of desperation there you know. The boys tend to front pretty well when their backs are against the wall. Internally we feel like we have made progress. We have been the authors of own misfortune when we haven't won and if we click, we feel we are more than capable of beating most teams.

"Last week a few things went our way and we got across the line. It certainly has given us a huge shot in confidence into the environment."

Tauranga Domain may be a creaking old relic of the 1950s but with the temporary stands on the city side, the innovative use of food stalls and a free lunch for the first 250 kids to the Mount Maunganui New World Whanau Zone, there should be a memorable atmosphere created.


"I don't think you can underestimate how powerful it is to have a big crowd behind you. Ultimately it is worth points," McMillan said. "If we get a big crowd in who are vocal, I am sure that our boys will feed off that and it will give us just that little bit of extra motivation that might get us across the line.

"We are hopeful that the weather plays its part and people recognise the occasion for both teams and come along and see a real war I would imagine."

Tickets: at the gate today.

Curtain raiser: Bay of Plenty U15 v Waikato U15, 12.30pm kick-off.

Bay of Plenty team v Waikato
1. Aidan Ross (21), 2. Liam Polwart (11), 3. Jeff Thwaites (18), 4. Keepa Mewett (capt, 32),
5. Culum Retallick (109), 6. Tom Franklin (9), 7. Hugh Blake (17), 8. Jesse Parete (17), 9. Richard Judd (8), 10. Mike Delany (69), 11. Joe Webber (23), 12. Terrence Hepetema (16), 13. Lalakai Foketi (26), 14. Monty Ioane (27), 15. Chase Tiatia (23)
Reserves: 16. Nathan Harris (28), 17. Jordan Lay (6), 18. James Lay (7), 19. Tyler Ardron (4)/Troy Callander (20), 20. Ajay Mua (1), 21. Mitchell Karpik (3), 22. Luke Campbell (13), 23. Elijah Nicholas (14)