Every sports team dreams of the perfect fan base.
One which turns up in droves no matter the time, day or weather and cheers with the utmost volume and passion to drive and inspire their team to victory.
While these scenes might seem a little fanciful in this day and age of New Zealand sport fans and their declining desire to watch their team live, we got pretty damn close last Saturday when the Taniwha took on Hawke's Bay at Semenoff Stadium in Whangārei in round four of the Mitre 10 Cup.
A rough estimate put crowd numbers at 6500, which far outstripped crowd sizes of previous years when about 3000 to 4000 Taniwha supporters braved the late winter/early spring chill.
Credit has to go to the fans for turning out but also to the Northland Rugby Union which has tied the team's home games this year with various themes.
Last Saturday against Hawke's Bay was "Club Day" and coincided with a Rugby for Life programme for which about 600 adults and children were bussed from all over Northland to watch the game.
The initiative worked a treat on the day as kids from multiple Northland rugby clubs came in their most creative garb and were led out onto the field by Tane the Taniwha before the game.
The atmosphere was great come kickoff and, despite the heavy loss to the Magpies, it was great to see Northland's rugby community come out in force.
But the goodwill of Northland's rugby fans will only last for so long.
Thursday night's 31-25 loss to Manawatū in Palmerston North was Northland's fourth loss from five games. From the four defeats, the Taniwha conceded 169 points in an average of over 42 points per game.
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The hopeful yet frustrating thing about these losses is that Northland haven't played as badly as the scores suggest. Nearly all the statistics (possession, territory, time in opposition 22m) favour Northland by the end of the game but when it comes down to taking their opportunities, Northland have been rather toothless.
As most of us sport-watchers will know, loyal fan bases can tolerate a few of these kinds of games but not indefinitely. While they can appreciate a team showing passion and hunger, patience can wear thin as the losses mount.
The way I see it, a statement needs to made. One that says this team is up for the fight and ready to knuckle down in the remaining five rounds of the competition and earn some respect back for the jersey.
And what better way to do that than by thumping Canterbury on Friday at Semenoff Stadium?
The Cantabs, who started 2019 with one of their worst runs in their history, have just come off an 80-point hammering of Southland and seem to have clicked back into their ruthless style of playing.
With hard games coming up against Wellington, Tasman and Otago, Northland need to get back to winning ways otherwise things could go downhill very, very quickly.
You can see the boys are trying on the park and as was the case against the Turbos, all they need is a bit of luck here and there to get across the line.
Canterbury will be a different beast and the home side will need its fans show up in support if they have any hope of climbing the championship table.
But if the Taniwha continue their four-game losing streak, support will dry up and serious questions will need to be asked of the playing and management group.