I never feel secure in any game (except maybe against Southland) given we concede tries pretty much any time the opposition gets within range. However our recent opponents have been the same and the whole comp seems to have become more high-scoring as it progresses.
But we do have a home semi-final and 2 weeks ago I was wondering if we would make the top 4. And the Domain is great (even if they are not at all set up for a crowd over 3,000) and drinking Good George in the sunshine pre-game is definitely a better experience than drinking Wild Bull under the stand at Baypark.
Can we beat Otago and make the final? Definitely. Is it sure thing? Definitely not. Expect there will be a few tries and it will be a close one.
And as Donsteppa says, from the depths of our 1-9 season a few years back, we have been making steady progress. We've had a settled side (helped I think by injuries forcing Clayton's hand and stopping the endless rotation) and Delany has added some much needed sense to get us around the field. Now we really need an apprentice 10 to start picking up experience for when Delany retires.
I agree with everything you guys have said. In my grumpiness, I have given up on this team many times this year like I do most years. I'm beginning to think that is very much part of following this team...the ups and downs !! So often I have left a ground with steam coming out my ears in anger after some lost encounter or loss that could easily have been a win. But on the odd occasion we have a heartening win and my faith is restored till the next game... Thankfully this year the wins are becoming a bit more frequently and the foul moods are becoming more bearable.
This game is very winnable (we did beat them earlier in the year after all). Kiwipie is right about the apparent ease with which teams seem to score when close to our line. That, combined with our mistakes makes for uncomfortable watching at times but I sense we are getting better and most of the team are stepping up to the plate as the season develops.
Tauranga Domain is superb on a sunny afternoon and hope it fills to overflowing on Saturday.
@gagaboy Good luck trying to get details of injuries through the press or The BOPRU.
Before the Waikato game Solomona Sakalia, Isaac Te Aute and Liam Steel were all officially unavailable due to injury and I think Retallick was the only one who left the field injured during that game with an injury. We have really been lucky on the injury front this year.
This is a team we beat a couple of weeks back by 8 points.
They were at home.
We had more territory and possession.
We scored two more tries than they did.
We had more line breaks, beat more defenders, had more off loads and they conceded more turnovers.
This week we play them at home and they will be without their top try scorer. You would have to say that that bodes well for us but this is BOP.........
The Bay of Plenty Steamers is as follows:
- Aidan Ross (21)
- Liam Polwart (11)
- Jeff Thwaites (18)
- Keepa Mewett (32)
- Troy Callander (20)
- Mitchell Karpik (3)
- Hugh Blake (17)
- Jesse Parete (17)
- Richard Judd (8)
- Mike Delany (69) – Vice Captain
- Joe Webber (23)
- Terrence Hepetema (16)
- Lalakai Foketi (26)
- Monty Ioane (27)
- Chase Tiatia (23)
16. James O’Reilly (15)
17. Jordan Lay (6)
18. James Lay (7)
19. Tyler Ardron (4)
20. Henry Stowers (16)
21. Matthew Garland (1)
22. Luke Campbell (14)
23. Elijah Nicholas (15)
Tom Franklin out with family commitments apparently.
Tough gig for the forwards with Franklin and Retallick. Line out loses options, but some good scavengers. Ardron will need to provide some punch when he gets on - I haven’t seen anything from him this season thus far.
Good backline again, but Judd could count himself lucky. hopefully he regains some form this game.
Steamers v Otago Semi