Defending ITM Cup champions Canterbury travel to Mt Maunganui on Tuesday to face early-season pace-setters Bay of Plenty.
It's been a difficult season to predict, but the big guns are starting to fire and Canterbury will be aiming to extend their lead at the top of the standings after a slow start to the 2011 campaign.
Things have gone in the completely opposite direct for the Steamers who - after starting the season at a sprint and racing to four straight wins - have now slumped to four consecutive defeats.
BOP could still turn their season around however as victories in their last two games could see them sneak into the play-offs. Another loss however and the threat of relegation could become very real.
First things first and coach Sean Horan's men will want to bounce back from their uninspired loss to Auckland last week. The team is largely unchanged although wing Ben Smith will look to add some impetus as he has been included in the starting line-up ahead of Jason Hona. In the pack ,Sam Cane starts at openside flank while Luke Braid is given a breather on the bench.
Captain Colin Bourke is backing his team to come right.
"We're definitely good enough to win the last two games if we put our minds to it and nail those little things," Bourke told the local media.
"By no means are we going to throw the towel in yet.
"We are definitely making it hard on ourselves though, in certain aspects of the game, the set piece being a huge one. Without that, we've been playing on the back foot straight away."
Meanwhile, Canterbury will be looking to build on their 27-0 demolition of Taranaki on Saturday.
More to follow...
Bay of Plenty: 15 Toby Arnold, 14 Lelia Masaga, 13 Phil Burleigh, 12 Steve Kefu, 11 Ben Smith, 10 Chris Noakes, 9 Jamie Nutbrown, 8 Colin Bourke (capt), 7 Sam Cane, 6 Tanerau Latimer, 5 Culum Retallick, 4 Leon Power, 3 Josh Hohneck, 2 Dan Perrin, 1 Bronson Murray.
Replacements: 16 John Pareanga, 17 Tristan Moran/Greg Plesants Tate, 18 Luke Andrews, 19 Luke Braid, 20 Josh Hall, 21 Nick McCashin, 22 Jason Hona, 23 Pingi Talaapitaga.
Date: Tuesday, August 23
Kick-off: 18:05 (07:05 GMT)
Venue: Baypark Stadium, Mount Maunganui