A late rally was not enough to avoid defeat as the Bay of Plenty Volcanix were beaten by the Auckland Storm in Whakatāne on Saturday.
The visitors won the third round Farah Palmer Cup match 28-19 as the Volcanix paid the price for not looking after the ball. It continued a winless start to the season for the Bay of Plenty women and they face a tough battle to make the top four.
The Volcanix made all the play in the first 20 minutes but were not able turn that dominance into points. Auckland scored three tries to lead 21-0 at the break before a much-improved Volcanix effort in the second half provided an entertaining finish.
Captain Christie Yule ran a superb support line to score the Volcanix' first try in the 46th minute but the slick Auckland outfit hit back 10 minutes later.
Volcanix fullback Sapphire Tapsell plucked an intercept out of the air and scooted away for a try in the 70th minute to give her side hope. Auckland again forced turnovers to shut the Volcanix out, but not before 19-year-old Volcanix replacement back Nadia Flavell scored on fulltime.
Yule was part of an industrious loose forward trio and says it is an improvement on the week prior.
"I think we had a good set piece, it was a good structure for us. When we were pushing up hard on defence we put them under pressure, we just have to keep doing that throughout. We were a lot more aggressive in that collision area and that was something we wanted to work on so that is fantastic.
"At the end of the day we have to start converting when we have the ball in hand and having a bit more composure. It is not about having to score from that first phase, we just need to build into it a bit more.
"I am proud of the girls, for that full 80 we kept pushing and you saw that right to that last try we were trying to keep it going. We expected we would have to value our own possession and work hard right until the end."
While Yule is happy with the direction her team is heading in, she realises the need to win games.
"We have got to keep lifting, we have got to get that W if we want to get a place in that final, so we have got to work really hard now."
I am proud of the girls, for that full 80 we kept pushing and you saw that right to that last try we were trying to keep it going.
Volcanix coach Rodney Gibbs was also happy with his team's work this week.
"There were a couple of good tries but we just need to build a bit more momentum. We are just growing, it is not about pulling it to pieces, we are just trying to build on what we are doing. They [Auckland] have some good footballers out there too. They have a pretty solid tight five with the Black Ferns in there, we handled it not too bad.
"I think the change in intensity was good, we saw around the breakdown area, we did some work through the week and the collision area was much better this week."
The Volcanix take on rivals Waikato next week before a week off with the bye the following week.
"We just have to keep growing and keep getting better. There was a lift this week from last week so we have to lift again this week," Gibbs said.