With eight rounds down and eight to go until semifinals, and a very close club rugby league competition evolving, Takahiwai are viewing tomorrow's game against Moerewa Tigers at Takahiwai Domain with high importance.
Takahiwai are caught in a bottleneck at the top of the ladder, on 10 points along with Kaikohe, behind Portland in second place and tied leaders Hikurangi and Bay Slayers.
The Thomas Murray-coached side have struggled this season to field the same team each week, with players missing games due to shift work and injury.
While the team has had its ups and downs this season, what has impressed Murray the most, is that his players are hanging in there.
"They are still keen and training well," he said. "When we get the team originally selected on the paddock at the same time, they can do a good job."
This weekend, Takahiwai should field a strong squad, with the return of a few guys who have been on shift work, Murray added.
Following their 10-point loss to Bay Slayers at Kerikeri last Saturday, and a bye the previous weekend, Takahiwai are ready to step up against the Tigers, who have upped the ante recently and sit two points behind Takahiwai.
Moerewa head into game on the back of an upset 34-8 win over Portland in the last round, Murray said the Tigers will be looking to carry on their winning momentum.
"Knowing David Bristowe [Moerewa Tigers coach] he will have his team set to task in their attacking and defensive zones and on the alert," he said.
"I never thought they would hammer Portland like they did, but I spoke to David on Saturday and he said the guys were ready to step up - and they did just that."
Consistency would be key to Takahiwai's success. It is something the team have tried to produce each week but have not quite pieced together a full 80-minute performance.
"Our biggest problem is that when we put the pressure on, we cannot hold onto it; we are not consistent," Murray said.
The team received a dose of inspiration recently, however, with the return of team manager Sonny Pirihi, who has spent several years in Australia.
Murray was hopeful Pirihi would be the good luck omen Takahiwai need to firm up their place in the top four.
"He's a legend at the club, he played here in the 70s and 80s. His heart is with the club - he brings stability and mana to the team," he said.
In other round nine matches tomorrow , Wairoa host Hokianga in Dargaville, Hikurangi play Otaua at Otaika Sports Park, City play Bay Slayers at Otangarei and Portland take on Kaikohe, at Portland.
Marist have the bye this weekend.
All games kick off at 2.30pm.
WCDRL points: Hikurangi, Bay 14, Portland 12, Kaikohe, Takahiwai 10, Hokianga 9, Moerewa, City 8, Wairoa 6, Otaua 4, Marist 1.