Wanganui's Heartland Championship rugby semi-final build-up will have to be carefully managed after the team showed signs of severe wear and tear in just getting by bottom-placed King Country 22-19 at Te Kuiti on Saturday.
Steelform Wanganui plays Wairarapa-Bush at Wanganui in a match scheduled at present for Sunday at 1.05pm, but likely to be shifted to Saturday at 2.30pm providing Wairarapa Bush agrees. The original plan allowed for televising, but Sky has declined.
Wanganui battled to put a coherent game plan together in the face of King Country's best effort of the season, maybe making the mistake of "chasing" the four-try bonus it needed to make sure of finishing top, rather than concentrating on just winning the game and allowing the tries to take care of themselves.
Strangely the need to avoid that try-scoring focus had been talked about all the past week, but the mind plays silly games when the pressure goes on, extravagant things were tried - and mistakes made which King Country took advantage of.
Some players were clearly not quite at their best either after a week of patching them up from the wear-and-tear of battle. Passes were dropped by players who normally wouldn't do that sort of thing, so tiredness is clearly an issue to be addressed in a short time before Wanganui plays Wairarapa Bush in next weekend's semi-final at Cooks Gardens.
The winner of that plays the winner of East Coast-North Otago in the final, with the match to be in Ruatoria if East Coast wins.
That's what Wanganui wanted to avoid, but as captain Peter Rowe says, Wanganui has to take the positives of the win and "go forward."
And that means total concentration on winning the semi against the team most rate the best they've played this season - Wairarapa Bush. Forget East Coast, that lies in the future.
There are some interesting things - from a selection point-of-view - to come out of the Te Kuiti game.
Injured playmaker Mark Davis believes he will be available for selection, and that could be important after Sean Brown appeared prone to giving himself too many alternatives with his decision-making against King Country, leading to a touch of confusion.
Nick Harding kicked for goal well, but was beaten rather badly by an impressive King Country wing Simeli Koniferedi two or three times. His fate lays in Davis's fitness, with Johnny Mow likely to come in if Davis plays.
And some problems in the midfield/wider defence, allowing King Country to make many metres out wide, will lead to the quick re-introduction of Saul Chase if he's fit.
Overall though, Saturday's close result was a result of some fine aggressive play by King Country, and only a fractionally below par Wanganui effort.
Conditions for the match were by no means as bad as expected - despite pouring rain just south of the town and paddocks awash with water, the fact that the rain stopped in Te Kuiti for the match allowed the game to be played on a firm ground with only a howling wind to cause problems.
Wanganui's set piece was supreme, with seven lineout wins off King Country throws and two straight tightheads in the scrums - but Wanganui found it extremely difficult to breach the home defence.
In the last 10 minutes King Country essayed three kicks at goal, through Sean Cressy and Kurt Strachan, to attempt to tie the game up at 22-22.
So it was a relatively lucky win, with enough creaky parts that need to be fixed to make the next week a very important one.