The story of the Bay of Plenty Volcanix' Farah Palmer Cup campaign so far includes a lot of wondering what could have been. A side brimming with potential and a healthy mix of youth and experience has been punished for making slow starts during the first half of the season. They trailed Counties 19-0 before almost making a comeback, against Auckland they trailed 21-0 at halftime and just fell short of a second half comeback. However, a win over Waikato last time out, followed by the bye, has them sitting fifth and ready to make a push for semifinals.The Bay of Plenty Volcanix return from the bye looking to continue their momentum in the Farah Palmer Cup.
The Volcanix play Manawatu in their sixth-round match at Tauranga Domain on Saturday, having chalked up their first win of the season against Waikato in round four.
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Coach Rodney Gibbs still does not have the services of Black Fern Renee Wickliffe for the Manawatu game. She was injured in the game against Auckland in round three. Her replacement Azalleyah Maaka suffered a season-ending injury against Waikato and with some other niggles in the squad, Gibbs says he will finalise the starting team today.The week off gave the players a chance to take a breath before they make a push towards the playoffs. With fixtures against Manawatu and Canterbury remaining, the Volcanix are four points outside the top four.
Senior player Kendra Reynolds, whose barnstorming play was a pillar of the victory against Waikato, says the bye week was good for the team.
"It was good to refresh not only our bodies but reconnect with whānau and be ready to go for the weekend. We train four nights a week and sometimes forget we have life outside of rugby.
"There is a really cool vibe among the group and they are enjoying themselves and remembering first and foremost why they play rugby.
"You want to do the best that you can, the girls are noticing a change with the connection within the side. The girls are really taking ownership of moments and celebrating them. This weekend we are really looking for an 80-minute performance and want that energy right from the first whistle."
Gibbs says the side has put in the yards in the week off.
"We trained as per normal and gave them the weekend off to freshen up. They had good energy, we enjoy each other's company and got into our work."
Gibbs has been satisfied with the Volcanix improvement this season, and they have pushed hard in close defeats.
"The bye is something that could possibly work in our favour, or possibly not. We won't know until this weekend. We had a little bit of momentum and we had been building quite nicely, there is a danger you miss a beat, but the flip side is the players get a chance to rest their bodies.
"I have been happy with the way we have been progressing around the collision, it makes a big difference in the game. We are lucky enough to have Matt [Wallis] and Lats [Tanerau Latimer] - we use their knowledge to help the girls. There have been some real learnings for the players in that area. Simple things like body height are critical to the collision area.
"We will have to be very good upfront this weekend, if our pack continues to grow as they are I would like to think we will get ascendancy there. We need a real focus on when we have the ball, that we hold onto it."
Bay of Plenty rugby double header
Saturday, October 5
Farah Palmer Cup:
Bay of Plenty Volcanix v Manawatu
Mitre 10 Cup:
Bay of Plenty Steamers v Manawatu