Playing at home could be the edge the Pāpāmoa Bulldogs need in Saturday's crucial final-round Waikato Rugby League competition fixture.
The top five will progress to the post-season next week and the Bulldogs take on Hamilton side College Old Boys', who are two points ahead in fourth place. The Ōtūmoetai Eels are just one point ahead in fifth place.
A win for the Bulldogs will almost certainly book their place in the finals as the only scenario that could scupper that is Hamilton City Tigers beating Hukanui by around 150 points. The Eels are playing win-less Hamilton Hornets in their final-round match.
Bulldogs coach Jock Nicholson is expecting a tough match at Gordon Spratt Reserve on Saturday.
"College Old Boys were finalists last year and lost a close final to Taniwharau, they will be ready for it. They will come down here and try and swamp us. Against top-four sides this year we have been struggling a little bit, so we will have to be at our best," Nicholson says.
"Being at home is huge, we have struggled a bit with travel. We are familiar with our park and in our own surroundings. I give us a good chance of putting in a solid performance and getting a good result."
Nicholson says the side has trained well and he is happy with what the team has achieved in their first year in the Waikato competition – but they are not done yet.
"It has come down to the final game and it is exciting. For us, semifinals is another level in itself, this is a big game for us to get there. It is a simple thing that if we hold our ball, make our tackles and do that 90 per cent of the time we will come away with the desired result.
"It is that consistency we are after. I am confident our boys will be up for it and we have to make sure we are composed and confident in what we do. We have to practice what we preach.
"Semifinals and finals footy is a little more conservative as teams don't want to make mistakes. Teams chance their arms to get there."
Eels coach Grant Sundborn says his team need to get things right if they want to play finals.
"Hamilton haven't won a game this season and I think they will find it tough travelling over the hill. But they will come out all guns firing. Passion is good but we are working on keeping our cool as well.
"I have sent a few strategic Facebook messages to the team to build up to Saturday. The main thing is to stick to the game plan, there are a few things we have been working on, like our edge defence. You have to be enthusiastic, if someone is not moving you have to tell them to move.
"Hopefully I have identified what has been going wrong, like with every game except Taniwharu we have had the lead. We have changed things like starting our warm-up earlier, because we have had to rush and we probably haven't said all that needed saying."
Waikato Rugby League premier grade draw for Saturday July 13:
Pāpāmoa Bulldogs v College Old Boys', Gordon Spratt Reserve.
Ōtūmoetai Eels v Hamilton Hornets, Mitchell Park.
Turangawaewae v Ngaruawahia Panthers, Ngaruawahia.
Hukanui v Hamilton City Tigers, Hamilton.
Waikato Rugby League premier grade points table:
Ngaruawahia Panthers 19
College Old Boys' 14
Ōtūmoetai Eels 14
Pāpāmoa Bulldogs 13
Hamilton City Tigers 13
Hamilton Hornets 7