Bay of Plenty fans of a certain vintage remember where they were around 4.15pm on August 15, 2004.

That is when Bay of Plenty beat Auckland at Eden Park to end the curse of the Ranfurly Shield. Bay of Plenty captain Wayne Ormond held aloft the most important prize in provincial rugby for the first time since the union began in 1912.

Bay of Plenty shield challenges before then were so full of misfortune only Shakespeare could have invented what happened in Napier in 1922, Christchurch in 1984 or Eden Park in 1996.

But all was forgotten that wonderful afternoon in 2004 when Glen Jackson scored 23 points in the famous 33-28 win. Bay of Plenty had won just once before at Eden Park and they have not won since.


So what chance the 2017 Steamers winning at Eden Park on Saturday evening? They have a great opportunity on form shown in the Mitre 10 Cup so far.

Auckland have won just two games from seven starts and are bottom of the Premiership table in the relegation slot. They look incapable of closing games out and have one of the most porous defensive lines in the competition.

That will suit the Steamers, who have shown an ability to score tries against any opposition this season in the Championship. But their record of three wins, three losses and a draw suggests a similar problem to Auckland in not turning close losses into wins.

Waikato and Taranaki have already won at Eden Park this season, with Northland unlucky not to join them.

Last Sunday's 31-31 draw at Tauranga Domain against Counties Manukau felt like a loss for Bay of Plenty after they dominated large chunks of the match.

More of the same against Auckland, with a sharper edge to taking chances on offer from general play and off the kicking tee, could see the fourth-placed Steamers take the points with three games left to play before semifinals begin.

Canada international No 8 Tyler Ardron, 26, is new to the Steamers this season after signing for the Chiefs. He arrived in Tauranga via Wales where he spent four seasons playing for the famed Ospreys club.

It will be his first game at Eden Park on Saturday and he can't wait.

"I wasn't expecting to play there so early so it is pretty exciting. It was somewhere in my rugby career I definitely wanted to play at," he said.

"I see no reason why this can't be the year we get that win. If you look at the results and form right now we can't be far off favourites, if not equal, so I think it is going to be a pretty good game."

Ardron has loved playing under coach Clayton McMillan, who will take his Maori All Blacks side to play Canada in Vancouver on November 4.

"Clayton is awesome. It has been nice to have a coach like him and I will be playing against him hopefully if I stay fit and healthy.

Bay of Plenty v Auckland, Eden Park, Saturday, 5.05pm
Bay of Plenty team:
1. Aidan Ross (16), 2. James O'Reilly (14), 3. Jeff Thwaites (16), 4. Troy Callander (18), 5. Keepa Mewett (29) - Captain, 6. Tom Franklin (7), 7. Hugh Blake (15), 8. Jesse Parete (15), 9. Richard Judd (6), 10. Mike Delany (68), 11. Joe Webber (6), 12. Terrence Hepetema (14),
13. Lalakai Foketi (25), 14. Monty Ioane (17), 15. Chase Tiatia (21)
Reserves: 16. Sabastian Siataga (11), 17. Jordan Lay (4), 18. James Lay (5), 19. Tyler Ardron (4), 20. Baden Wardlaw (0), 21. Luke Campbell (11), 22. Elijah Nicholas (12), 23. Isaac Te Aute (16)