Neither Byford's Readimix Taihape or Wanganui Car Centre Kaierau want to limp over the finish line when it comes to the Top 4 of Tasman Tanning Division 1 ahead of their pivotal match at Memorial Park on Saturday.
Technically, both sides still have a second life in their back pocket if they cannot secure victory this weekend, given fifth-place Dave Hoskin Carriers Marist are now playing for their season against the red-hot Waverley Harvesting Border at Spriggens Park.
Taihape get two home matches to finish the round, against sides which have to travel quite a ways to get there, while Kaierau are just about to complete "murderers row" against all other playoff contenders, before being the team most likely to pick up five points against a struggling Harvey Round Motors Ratana next weekend.
However, having pulled off the crucial away win over Marist last weekend, denying the home side any bonus points, Taihape want to lock in their Top 4 spot, here and now, with the chance to earning a home semifinal if other match results go their way in the next eight days.
"It's good to be at home, that's for sure," said coach Tom Wells.
"That Marist win was almost a must-win, but I still feel like we're not hitting our straps.
"Getting two home games to finish, if the boys can't get up for that, they shouldn't be there [in semifinals] anyway.
"It's do or die for Marist this weekend, and whoever gets the result [in our game], they'll be sitting reasonably safe-ish."
Taihape were under pressure after two close losses when they came to the Country Club in May, beating Kaierau 17-11 on the back of their dominant forward pack in the scrum and maul, plus two powerful tries from standout midfielder Jaye Flaws in the second half.
Taihape will now be without prop Wiremu Cottrell, one of their standouts that day, but get PT Hay-Horton back after his suspension to slot in against a polished Kaierau lineout with locks Josh Lane and Matt Ashworth.
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Not requesting the role at the start of the season, backline general Dane Whale has taken back over the goal kicking in the past two games and was crucially accurate with three-pointers against Marist.
"He's striking them well. Can't rely on the kicker – it is important, but everyone's got to be doing their job," said Wells.
One of those men is hooker Dylan Gallien, who has been perpetual motion this year and leads the tryscorers lists with 12 touchdowns, usually a spot held by a winger, although most teams have been rotating various players through those positions this campaign.
"We have been telling him to play on the edge a bit this season," said Wells.
"But against Marist, I said he should try to stay in tight, and before that he scored down the sideline anyway.
"He's fit and strong. Guys like that are just ball magnets."
Without Cottrell, Taihape will need to be wary of Kaierau's latest arrival in prop Raymond Epati, the mobile front rower who had such an impact last season for Black Bull Liquor Pirates.
"I don't really know Raymond, played against him a couple of times. We just need to focus on ourselves," said Wells.
"If we hit our straps, we'll be right. Got to turn up, switched on, for 80 minutes."
Kaierau, like Taihape three weeks before them, were frustrated their committed effort against table leaders McCarthy's Transport Ruapehu did not yield even a bonus point in Ohakune last weekend – in a match they could have won right up until the dying minutes.
So even with the Ratana match upcoming, co-coach Carl Gibson said the team is determined to make the most of their opportunities in their second tough road game in a row.
"You don't want to get in on someone's misfortune, rather than earning your place there," he said.
"We definitely competed [with Ruapehu], there's no doubt about that.
"Rua showed their ability to be precise, especially at home. That's why this is so important, this weekend.
"This competition, you can go from first equal back to fourth.
"It's not only the top four, but the chance to get a home semifinal.
"Arguably to be in that top two, you really need four wins [in second round]."
Unlike Taihape, Kaierau have had their share of injuries but are starting to come out the other side of them, and now search for a way to put together an 80 minute effort.
While Taihape came from behind to beat them in May, Kaierau's recent big games have been categorised in coming back from deficits – successfully against Border and Marist, but not on two occasions with Ruapehu.
"The last time we played Taihape, they started much stronger than us," said Gibson.
"We've had that fitness and conditioning. But as time goes on in the season, people catch up to you on the fitness."
The ace in the hole, literally, is likely to be co-coach Ace Malo, who was not initially going to play this season but has scored tries in Kaierau's past two games – not playing flawlessly, but at the critical moment, able to turn the clock back five years.
"Rua awarded him player of the day, and rightly so I thought," Gibson said.
In the other games, Marist must make the best of their home advantage against Border at Spriggens Park, with the visitors coming off their 114-5 massacre of Ratana and having the knowledge of their toughest road game against Taihape to finish the round.
Ruapehu will head to the Ratana Pa to lock up their home semifinal, having never been beaten there by the home side since 2007.