The Bay of Plenty Steamers must start winning again if they are to keep alive their hopes of making the ITM Cup Premiership semifinals.
The most important week of their season begins with a crunch match against Waikato in Hamilton tomorrow night followed by the high flying Aucklanders in Rotorua on Friday night.
Heading into the games the Steamers are in last spot on the points table, following Friday night's 47-13 capitulation at the hands of Counties-Manukau in Pukekohe.
But with such a hectic playing schedule there has been little time to dwell on the loss, which Steamers captain Tanerau Latimer sees as a good thing.
"We have had a bit of a boot up the bum which we needed," he said. "The good thing is in just a couple of days we can right our wrongs from that game. It was the core roles which cost us against Counties and there were simple tries we conceded, which piled up on top of each other and got to the boys. We didn't deal with the pressure very well but at least we did come out a bit better in the second half."
Latimer was none too pleased with the lack of effort evident in Pukekohe, saying it was disrespectful to the jersey. Strong words indeed and he has made the point even more powerfully behind closed doors.
"Players have to buy into the jersey massively. People go from team to team but you have to get inside the team culture, just living it, and that's how you grow some respect, some camaraderie, and wanting to play for each other."
Next up is a Waikato team hurting after losing 22-12 to Auckland at Eden Park on Saturday. The Mooloo men rated their chances against a relatively youthful side but were out-enthused and fell off tackles.
The Steamers always dig deep to take on their Chiefs' partners and last year ran away with the fixture 36-8 in a season highlight.
Latimer expects another typically tough local derby battle.
"It is a good time to play them as they are a bit down in the dumps as well but over-the-hill battles are always good."
The loss of the Steamers' preferred starting pair of halfback Jamie Nutbrown and first-five Chris Noakes through injury means another opportunity for local club players Josh Hall and Nick McCashin to make a name for themselves at this level.
Their performances so far have been assured but they will need to step up another level in Hamilton against last year's losing Premiership finalists.
Kickoff for the game is at 7.35pm.