Despite not reaching top gear on attack in Friday's Mitre 10 Cup Championship final, in the dying minutes of the game the Steamers made their biggest statement of the season - on defence.
With a five-point lead, the home side were camped on their own try line, repelling wave after wave of Hawke's Bay attack. The crowd cheered every tackle and willed their side home. For more than 25 phases the Steamers defended and finally forced a turnover.
To me, that was the moment that showed how far they have come.
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If you rewind a couple of years, to the 2017 Championship final against Wellington, Bay of Plenty played out of their skins to come back late and level the scores at 40-all at fulltime. However, they fell apart in extra time and eventually went down 59-45.
In 2018, many expected them to build on the previous season and go all the way but the Steamers crumbled. Their season was cut short when they finished fifth and missed out on the semifinals.
This season, it appeared the Bay of Plenty Steamers had the potential to achieve something special from the outset.
With a 50-7 hammering of Otago and 40-14 victory over Waikato in the first two games, they were not only getting wins - they looked bloody good doing it. In fact, I wrote just that only two rounds in, perhaps jumping the gun a little but feeling good about what we had seen so far.
This year, they had the squad depth to deal with injuries, they found an attacking style of play that worked for them and the coaching staff were able to get the best out of every single player.
Even losses against premiership sides Wellington and Auckland were turned into positives - important reality checks used to ensure the players did not get carried away with their good form.
There were ups and downs but that momentum continued throughout the season and on Friday night in Rotorua the Steamers put the finishing touches on an emphatic season, beating Hawke's Bay 12-7 in the final.
Steamers head coach Clayton McMillan said to me after the game that some fans might be disappointed by the style of the win - it was the first game this season that his side have not scored a try. I'm not sure I agree though. While the final was void of the free-flowing, attacking rugby we have gotten used to this season, I doubt there is a single fan who left that stadium feeling they did not get their money's worth (except maybe the Hawke's Bay fans).
The beauty of attending sporting events in person is being part of the crowd, especially in a situation as tense as a final. It's as if you and all the other fans become a single entity, thousands of you share the same passion for your team and together you live and breathe every moment.
Now, we can look forward to seeing what the Steamers can do in the Premiership in 2020.
I suspect they will not go into their shells. This year they realised what they are capable of and will go into next season full of confidence.
The Bay of Plenty Steamers will not be entering the Mitre 10 Cup Premiership to make up the numbers.