When the Bay of Plenty last faced Waikato at the Rotorua International Stadium it was the visitors who took Chiefs Country bragging rights.
This weekend the provincial rivalry continues with their round 2 Mitre 10 clash doubling as the Chiefs Country Cup Challenge. They face off at the Rotorua stadium tomorrow – exactly one year after the Bay of Plenty became the inaugural holders of the trophy.
The Chiefs Country Cup was introduced last year, adding to the rivalry between the Super Rugby franchise's four provincial unions – Bay of Plenty, Counties Manukau, Taranaki and Waikato.
Bay of Plenty became the first winners of the trophy after beating Taranaki 30-10 on August 18 last year, defending it against Counties Manukau days later but losing it to Waikato, the current holders, last September 54-21.
Both teams go into the second match of their 2019 Mitre 10 Cup campaign with a win in round one but Steamers head coach Clayton McMillan says his team's 50-7 victory over Otago last weekend has no relevance to what's to come.
"I've got a pretty long memory and it doesn't take much to remember that we won our first two games last year pretty comprehensively and then injuries and a few other things started to hit us so the season fell away pretty quick. I don't have to remind the boys of that, they're all well aware, that's why it's just one game at a time," McMillan told NZME.
"We're not going to get carried away by our first performance. There is a long way to go. It's as simple as that."
Looking forward, McMillan said there were some changes in the line-up from last weekend, some due to minor injuries but nothing serious.
"Given the nature of the season and the fact that we've got some able replacements we decided against risking them this early in the competition."
Alex Ainley, who played more than 90-games at lock for Tasman, makes his Steamers debut while Baden Wardlaw moves to the bench and Joe Ravouvou, who also makes his Steamers debut, will be on the right wing replacing Emoni Narawa, who moves to the bench, while Pryor Collier is rested.
Round two home game for Steamers against Waikato
Steamers fans warm up a rainy day on home turf
Bay of Plenty vs Otago expected to be tough battle
Other movements include Leroy Carter, who was part of the 2019 Bay of Plenty Under 19's team who won the Graham Mourie Cup at the Jock Hobbs National Under 19's tournament, coming off the bench to make his Steamers debut, Ross Geldenhuys named as tight-head prop, with Jeff Thwaites moving to the bench while Tevita Mafileo is rested and Hoani Matenga moving from the bench to number 8, replacing Abraham Papali'i, who has a mild shoulder injury.
Waikato beat Canterbury 31-28 last weekend and McMillan praised their efforts.
"They looked pretty impressive against Canterbury. They have a pretty talented team and they are working hard.
"They play an attacking brand of rugby. They've got some good game drivers at 9 and 10 that put them in the right areas of the park and they've got an industrious hardworking forward pack so they're tough, It all sort of means it's going to be a bit of a humdinger I think."
McMillan says Waikato can be a dangerous force and Chiefs Rugby Club chief executive Michael Collins is expecting Bay of Plenty to put forward a strong challenge.
Tomorrow will be the Steamers' last home game until they face Wellington on September 7 and McMillan says the team is looking forward to it.
"It's a huge help when you play at home and home for us representative of all of our sub-unions. We get to play our afternoon or early evening night fixtures in Rotorua and the afternoon games here in Tauranga and the boys, by all accounts, enjoy both so we're looking forward to getting on to what we know is always a good track in Rotorua."
Bay of Plenty:
Aidan Ross, Nathan Harris, Ross Geldenhuys, Aaron Carroll, Alex Ainley, Hugh Blake, Mitch Karpik, Hoani Matenga, Richard Judd, Dan Hollinshead, Fa'asiu Fuatai, Mathew Skipwith-Garland, Joe Webber, Joe Ravouvou, Chase Tiatia.
Reserves: Kurt Eklund, Tom McHugh, Jeff Thwaites, Baden Wardlaw, Ajay Mua, Leroy Carter, Jason Robertson, Emoni Narawa.
Bay of Plenty vs Waikato
Sunday, August 18, kick off at 4.35pm.
Rotorua International Stadium
Gates Open at 1.30pm
Curtain Raiser: Bay of Plenty Ngawha vs Waikato Men's B, kick-off 2pm.
Chiefs Country Cup Challenges:
August 18: Mitre 10 Cup - Bay of Plenty Steamers vs Waikato at Rotorua International Stadium.
September 21: Farah Palmer Cup - Bay of Plenty Volcanix vs. Waikato at FMG Stadium Waikato.