Hawke's Bay remain winless this season and will be desperate to get off the mark when they host Counties Manukau on Friday.
After two rounds, Hawke's Bay remain winless this season and will be desperate to get off the mark when they host Counties Manukau in Friday's ITM Cup crossover clash in Napier.
A poor first half was to blame in the Magpies' opening round defeat to Auckland, and then a second-half collapse to Wellington in Round Two cost them dearly.
After being promoted from the Championship division last year, a third loss on the trot will leave Hawke's Bay rooted at the bottom the Premiership table and a mountain to climb to avoid relegation.
Counties Manukau, meanwhile, got their campaign off to a winning start thanks to a convincing 30-9 win over Southland. The Steelers led for most of the match, outscoring the southerners four tries to none, showing a willingness to run the ball from all areas of the field.
The result currently sees Tana Umaga's troops top of the Championship standings, which is exactly where they want to be as they aim for promotion to the Premiership.
So with the Magpies desperate to avoid the chop, and the Steelers knocking on the Premiership's door – the outcome of this clash could prove vital at the business end of the tournament.
In team news, Umaga has made three changes to his Steelers side.
Captain DJ Forbes returns from injury to start in the number seven jersey. International hooker Mahonri Schwalger and lock Jimmy Tupou will start, with Daniel Adongo, Suliasi Taufalele and Mark Selwyn moving to the bench.
“Earning respect is important for us this season and with three games in seven days, this will be a true gauge of where we are at,” said Umaga.
Hawke's Bay: 15 Nick McLennan, 14 Tino Nemani, 13 Tua Saseve, 12 Andrew Horrell, 11 Zac Guildford, 10 Daniel Waenga, 9 Chris Eaton, 8 Mike Coman (c), 7 Karl Lowe, 6 Adam Bradey, 5 Johan Schoonbee,4 Ross Kennedy,3 Ben Tameifuna, 2 Hika Elliot, 1 Adrian Barone.
Replacements: 16 Ash Dixon, 17 Brendon Edmonds, 18 Kieran Coll, 19 Tivaini Fomai, 20 Isaac Paewai, 21 Ihaia West, 22 Gillies Kaka.
Counties Manukau: 15 Tim Nanai-Williams, 14 Frank Halai, 13 Rey Lee-Lo, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Sherwin Stowers, 10 Baden Kerr, 9 August Pulu, 8 Fritz Lee, 7 DJ Forbes (c), 6 Adam Cathcart, 5 Jimmy Tupou, 4 Ronald Raaymakers, 3 Matt Talaese, 2 Mahonri Schwalger, 1 Simon Lemalu.
Replacements: 16 Suliasi Taufalele, 17 Maka Tatafu, 18 Daniel Adongo, 19 Mark Selwyn, 20 David Bason, 21 Ray Laulala, 22 Tony Pulu.
Referee: Richard Kelly