The yo-yo continues for Taranaki - as it does for most of the teams in the competition. But the implication still remains - this province needs to win two more games if it is to make the top seven.
Counties upsetting Northland yesterday did provide some positive news in the top seven hopes. The potato growers have a tougher road home, with games against Harbour, Auckland, Canterbury and Hawke's Bay.
One further win will take Taranaki to 32, but with Counties already on 25, it is likely that Counties will secure a further eight points.
Likewise, Northland, who faces a massive game against Waikato this week, are still very much alive on 21. They could quite likely win three more games - they also have Hawke's Bay, Tasman and Bay of Plenty to come.
To win only one game is likely to mean Taranaki needs to crib out with a host of bonus points.
But the easiest task is to bowl Southland this week - which it conceivably should do. Southland boozed up heavily on Friday and Saturday night and Taranaki will surely return with fire and brimstone this week. If they don't, heads will roll, especially since a lacklustre performance in week 11 against Manawatu would be the height of embarrassment.
Taranaki were fortunate to gain a bonus point on Saturday given the comprehensive nature with which they were out played in the first 50 minutes.
The talk during the week about being up for the game mentally counted for nothing. The Taranaki forwards were asleep on their feet. That was the root of the problem. Only when Samu Vunisa and Kane Barrett came on did the forwards get some momentum.
The real tragedy was perhaps Brett Goodin. Having been relegated to the bench this season, he had looked the best for some time, especially with that probing run against BoP that lead to Scott Waldrom scoring. But on Saturday his distribution was poor and his option taking worse.
Willie Ripia has been a reliable goal kicker in the past three years. But his inability to attack the line and defend was exposed, the latter also caused issues for Jayden Hayward. At least Hayward did flare up on attack in the second spell.
And poor old - and that is a description used wisely - Scott Ireland copped plenty down the back. It is never easy being thrown in at the deep end like that. But in this competition, if you want to win, you must play your strongest combination.
In the end, Taranaki were somewhat lucky to get one point. But in the end it should have been two.
Beauden Barrett has been labelled an All Black in waiting. The missed droppie on Saturday after the hooter from point-blank range was costly. Barrett is only 19, highly skilled, but still has much to learn. A start for him this Saturday is possible. The result could be sensational or catastrophic.
**Can Taranaki bounce back and beat Southland or is their season over? Post your comments below.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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