Having missed out on the Farah Palmer Cup Premiership semifinals, the focus of the Bay of Plenty Volcanix now shifts to survival.
A 26-22 loss to Counties Manukau in Auckland on Saturday means the Volcanix finish the round robin in fifth, just four points behind fourth-placed Manawatu. The result booked them a home playoff against Auckland for fifth place this weekend, the loser of which will be relegated to the second tier Championship division next season.
The Bay of Plenty women went into Saturday's game full of confidence, on the back of wins over Taranaki and Auckland, and started the game strongly, leading 22-7 at halftime.
However, Counties improved in the second half, mounting an impressive comeback to hold the Volcanix scoreless and win 26-22.
Volcanix captain Christie Yule said, while the result was disappointing, the team could not dwell on it.
"I'm obviously a bit gutted at the moment, but in terms of the performance overall, we knew what they would throw at us and we performed well and did our game plan really well in the first half.
"We worked to our strengths, we didn't keep running at their big forward pack. We gave our backs some good quality ball, which allowed them to run their backs around and keep them moving.
"In the second half we strayed from that a bit and went more into their game plan. They came back hard and took the win from us."
The Volcanix' second-half performances have been a concern in the last two weeks, they barely held off an Auckland comeback the week before. However, Yule was confident her side would learn from those games.
"We talked about it after the game, we said the loss would hurt, let it hurt tonight and then tomorrow we'll focus back in on next week.
"We've beaten Auckland once and we know what game plan can work against them, we just have to go out there and do it. Our second half against Auckland, like against Counties, didn't go the way we wanted, so we want to put in a full 80-minute performance. There are heaps of things we can improve on.
"We do have some young girls in there and maybe another year in the Championship would've been good for them, but we have a lot of experienced players as well. It's just about us all stepping up to help lead the team and guide them.
"We know what we want to do, we just have to make sure we're all on the same page and go out there and work hard. Hopefully we can finish with two wins over Auckland in one season."
She said staying in the Premiership meant "everything" to the Volcanix.
"We didn't want to be a team who was only in it for one season, a one-season wonder, the goal is to stay in the Premiership and that's what we're focused on doing."
Regardless of results, Yule was proud of what her team had achieved this season, having made the step up to the Premiership.
"I'm super proud of the girls. We had a whole bunch of new girls come into the team this year, but everyone has stepped up and shown why they were selected in the squad.
"We have a great buzz going in the team at the moment, with the culture, and it's just a shame that we've only got one more game coming up. It would've been good to have a few more games. Hopefully we can finish on a high."