The representative season comes to a head for the battered and bruised Bay of Plenty Lakers when they play Counties Manukau for a place in the New Zealand Rugby League Premiership.

Having already conquered Northland, Coastline, Wellington and Otago on their way to winning the NZRL Championship, this is the game the Lakers most want to win.

A victory at Mt Smart today will see them play in the Premiership next season against the best sides in the country.

Bay of Plenty coach Paniora Daniels said the team completed some light training this week after feeling the effects of a physical encounter against Otago last week, which they won in the dying minutes 26-24.


"We've just worked on our systems and processes a bit more, to let the boys recover, so it wasn't as intense but still beneficial.

"I think we put ourselves under a lot of pressure, with bad discipline and errors, but credit to the boys - when they got the ball they showed what they can do with it. We were our own worst enemies at times, getting pinged all the way down the field and not respecting the ball.

"That's what I said at halftime, just hold on to the ball, and we showed good glimpses but still let in some easy tries," Daniels said.

He expected relegation-threatened Counties Manukau to come out firing.

"They don't want to be relegated and we want to be up there. It is do-or-die for both sides, but that's how it has been every game, it's nothing different to us. If anything they're the team under pressure because their place in the Premiership is on the line.

"Playing against any Auckland-based team you know it's their size that gets them down the field, if we can contain their big guys we can get a result.

"I just want to keep our middle nice and tight. Our defence has been good but we've just lapsed in certain areas. We need to take the right options."

The promotion game is part of a triple-header which also includes the second game between the New Zealand Secondary Schools and New South Wales Combined High Schools and the NZRL Premiership final between Akarana and Waikato. The senior games will be broadcast live on Sky Sport.

"We want to get up early and get them used to being there, we don't want stage fright happening to our boys. It's a big day and being on TV, we need to make sure they are mentally up for it and just play their game," Daniels said.

National Premiership Finals day at Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland
NZRL Premiership final: Akarana v Waikato, 7.30pm
Promotion/relegation game: Counties Manukau v Bay of Plenty, 5.30pm
New Zealand Secondary Schools v NSW Combined High Schools, 3.30pm