The Bay of Plenty Steamers will be hoping history repeats when they take on Wellington at Baypark Stadium tomorrow night.
Last year a confident Wellington side left the same venue demoralised, after they were thrashed 38-0 in one of the finest victories in the Bay of Plenty union's 101-year history.
Tomorrow's clash takes on almost final-like status for the Steamers, after their agonising injury-time loss to Hawke's Bay on Friday night. A semifinal spot still beckons for the Bay but they will need to start taking maximum points from their remaining matches.
Season-ending injuries to halfback Josh Hall and hooker Dan Perrin from the Hawke's Bay game have not helped preparations for Wellington. Both players fractured bones in a hand, and Perrinwent on to play 73 minutes of the game, unaware of the damage.
His heroics won him the team's Rambo Award, voted by the players after every game, but that is small consolation for Perrin, who was in the best form of his life in what is his third season with the Steamers.
"I am out for six to eight weeks after I have the operation this week so it is pretty gutting how something so little can have that impact," Perrin said. "I have started every game of the season and I was tracking along really well, I thought, and had struck up a good combination with the two big locks at lineout time.
"Our lineout is functioning the best in the competition at 93 per cent and our scrum is up there as the third best as well. It helps to keep the same guys out on the track every week because you lose a bit of rhythm if you are chopping and changing players.
"It also helps to have completion for places. John [Pareanga] and I have been fighting for that hooker's jersey for three years and have pushed each other harder and harder. He will carry on where I left off. He is a top man and his work ethic is second to none as well."
Perrin says the Bay's recent success against Wellington will help motivate the players.
"We have gone really well against them in the last three or four years, and with the last one being so convincing, the boys can take a lot of confidence out of that. Wellington will still be a little bit dark on what happened and after a loss to Auckland [on Saturday], it is pretty desperate times for both teams.
"It could well be a cracker of a game on Tuesday night."
The positive side on the Steamers injury report is that wingers Jack Wilson and Ben Smith were running about sprightly at training yesterday, and both may be in the frame for selection. NZ under-20s hooker Nathan Harris is set for a call-up to the bench from the Bay Development XV.
Kickoff at Baypark, Mt Maunganui is 7.35pm.