The Wellington Lions would have every reason to be confident going into the their NPC game against Southland tomorrow after reading last Sunday's scoreline - Counties Manukau 30 Southland 9.
It was a match as lopsided as the final scoreline but one that the Lions don't expect to be repeated.
"Mate, they will never play that bad again," says Lions assistant coach Richard Watt. When you've got guys such as [Jamie] Mackinstosh, [Jason] Rutledge and [Josh] Bekhuis, they're never going to play that bad twice in a row. From what I've read, they're pissed off and they're going to come up here and really hoe into us."
It's a fair point but, equally, Wellington have done a bit of hoeing of their own so far this season.
They've played two games, to Southland's one, and recorded healthy victories in each.
The feature of the second, over Hawke's Bay, was the Lions' outstanding scrum - even if Watt is reluctant to discuss it.
"Don't tell everyone. At least keep some things under the radar," he said before crediting Hurricanes and Wellington scrum technician Dan Cron with the Lions' improvement.
With Cron upskilling everyone on technique, players such as Dane Coles have been instilling the right attitude to scrummaging.
"Something we've been driving home is to not to be happy with that stake in the sand. They can't think ‘ok we nailed it, let's back off now'," Watt said.
"They've got to keep driving those standards and trying to push that stake another couple of centimetres each week."
The encouraging thing for Wellingtonis they seem to be able to lift their standards during a match.
Their first half against Hawke's Bay was poor but the players recognised that, adapted their game-plan and won the second spell 24-0.
That wouldn't have happened a year ago.
The bulk of the team that beat the Magpies have been retained for tomorrow. All Blacks Victor Vito and Julian Savea drop out, replaced by Genesis Mamea and Matt Proctor.
Mark Reddish comes in at lock for Ross Filipo, who picked up a shoulder injury on Tuesday, Ardie Savea starts at openside in place of Scott Fuglistaller and Coles drops to the bench for Motu Matu'u.
Wellington: Jason Woodward, Alapati Leiua, Charlie Ngatai, Shaun Treeby, Matt Proctor, Tim Bateman, Frae Wilson, Genesis Mamea, Ardie Savea, Lua Lokotui, Mark Reddish, Jeremy Thrush (c), Jeff Toomaga-Allen, Motu Matu'u, Arden David-Perrot. Reserves: Dane Coles, Solomona Sakalia, Whetu Henry, Serge Lilo, Kayne Hammington, Joe Latta, Ope Peleseuma
Southland: Marty McKenzie, Kade Poki, Nathan Hohaia, Cardiff Vaega, Tim Cornforth, Robbie Robinson, Jimmy Cowan, Hoani MacDonald, Alex Taylor, Brayden Mitchell, Alex Ryan, Josh Bekhuis, Nic Barrett, Talemaitoga Tuapati, Jamie Mackinstosh (c). Reserves: Jason Rutledge, Tukiterangi Raimona, Ben Nally, Michael Fatialofa, Nemia Kenatale, Matt Saunders, Mark Wells
- © Fairfax NZ News