The step up from the Farah Palmer Cup Championship to the Premiership is a big one, but despite consecutive losses, the Bay of Plenty Volcanix are taking it in their stride.

Boasting a squad full of fresh faces in 2018, the Volcanix had their work cut out for them in the first two rounds against established powerhouses Canterbury and Waikato.

They went down 55-5 to defending champions Canterbury in round one and 44-7 to Waikato last weekend.

Tomorrow, their hunt for a first win takes them to Palmerston North to play the Manawatu Cyclones, who are one place above them on the table.


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Captain Christie Yule said when the team won the Championship last year and earned promotion to the Premiership, they were well aware of the challenge they faced.

"[Against Waikato] I think we showed a lot of improvement from our first game, we had a lot more dominance in that first half. We built multiple phases and kept the pressure on Waikato, we just now have to work on the finer details and finishing off the moves.

"I think it was just small errors, our ball into contact, our pass and catch - just simple things we can fix that will make a big difference for us. That's what we've been working on this week and hopefully we have them fine tuned by Saturday."

Bay of Plenty's Renee Holmes looks to clear the ball during the round one Farah Palmer Cup match against Canterbury. Photo / Getty Images
Bay of Plenty's Renee Holmes looks to clear the ball during the round one Farah Palmer Cup match against Canterbury. Photo / Getty Images

Manawatu are fifth on the Premiership ladder, having beaten Auckland 44-17 and lost to Counties Manukau 31-22. Yule knows this weekend's opposition better than most, she played for them for six years.

"They're a team who have a solid forward pack, then they love to give it out to their backs and let them run wild. We'll have to look to shut that down and try not to let them have too much ball.

"I enjoy [going up against a former team], but it's definitely strange. It's good to know the ins and outs of how they work, but to have friends who you can catch up with at the end of it is awesome as well."

Despite a tough start to the season, she said the Volcanix players were not letting their heads drop and were instead focused on improvement. "Be better than before" became something of a team motto last season, when the Volcanix romped home to win the Championship title.


"They've been really positive and it's all about being better than we have been and improving on that - just growing as a team. It's still pretty much the same as last year.

"We've got 15 or 16 new girls in the squad this year, so while it has been a step up in the Premiership, we also took a bit of a knock in losing half of last year's team. We're still having to focus a lot on improving and building that team culture."

Yule said the most valuable attributes the new players brought into the team environment was their youth and enthusiasm. Regardless of results this season, the experience they gain by playing against the best week-in, week-out would serve the team well in the long-term.

"It's that sense of giving anything a go and thinking outside of the square compared to what we have usually thought about doing in terms of moves. I think they're really courageous, which is awesome.

"We're also all about building a Volcanix legacy, it's not just thinking about 2018, but the many years to come and trying to grow the game here - where we want to take the team in future years."

Bay of Plenty Volcanix v Manawatu Cyclones
Saturday, 1pm at Central Energy Trust Arena, Palmerston North
Played: 6 (2003-2015). Manawatu wins: 4, Bay of Plenty wins: 2
Last match: Manawatu 29 Bay of Plenty 7 (2015)
Last Bay of Plenty win: Bay of Plenty 8 Manawatu 5 (2004)
Biggest Manawatu score: 29 (2015)
Biggest Bay of Plenty score: 15 (2004)
Biggest differential: Manawatu by 22 (29-7 in 2015)