Last week's loss to Tasman was a tough pill to swallow.
The boys had trained well throughout the week and were fizzing for the first whistle.
To play the first game of the season in front of our home crowd was something the team was hugely excited about.
The first half clearly didn't go to plan, we had to do a lot of defending and allowed a good Tasman side to get quick ball.
To be trailing by only eight points at halftime was somewhat of a bonus; we had absorbed a lot of pressure especially on our own goal-line.
The second half was a different story. We played some good rugby and started to build a lot of pressure and play at the right end of the field.
What let us down was our ability to finish off our line breaks. Surprisingly, we managed to make more line breaks than Tasman but just couldn't find the try-line. A lack of support and a poor cleanout once we had broken the defensive line led to us not taking our chances.
This week we take on a Northland side that is coming off a narrow Ranfurly Shield loss to Waikato.
We know the threats Northland possess, particularly out wide in the form of Rene Ranger, and travelling to Whangarei is always a difficult assignment and the boys know we will need a big effort to win.
However, we are confident that if we can execute well and finish off our chances we can build on last week and bank our first victory of the season.
Our first trip away together for the season is always enjoyable.
The boys are usually kept entertained on the flight up by the annual game of cards, played between Goof (coach David Henderson), Hoani MacDonald, team physio "Macca" (Karl McDonald) and his partner in crime Dr Peter Finlayson.
More times than not, Macca and Doc are the victorious team.
At the start of the season, some of the team were assigned to various committees, most of which are entertainment-based.
Once we get onto the bus to head to our motel, we hear from our information committee, who will give a rundown of the history of the city we are in and what activities we can do while there.
Next up, the jokes committee come up the front and give the boys a laugh (well, try, in my case).
The jokes segment usually ends in Doc or Macca telling the guys a joke referring to a management member, who will not be named.
It's fair to say the laughter after that joke carries on for several minutes.
The next and probably most important part of away games, apart from the game itself, is who you room with on tour.
According to some of the players, Jamie Mackintosh and John Hardie have been described as the worst room-mates, because of their below-average hygiene. At the other end of the scale, cousins Marty Mckenzie and Robbie Robinson always seem to be well received, because of their being well groomed.
No doubt this weekend's trip will include several more highlights, including, hopefully, a win.
- The Southland Times