How can a team play so well one week and so ordinary the next is the question on most Taranakian's lips at the moment.
It is rather simple: attitude. Most observers making the comment are in all likelihood no different in their own vocations. Occasionally, once or twice a year perhaps, the acid comes on and we all have to lift our standards both in terms of quality and quantity.
Once the challenge is overcome, it is only natural to ease back. In short, it is impossible to perform at the peak of your powers week after and week. And so it has been with Taranaki in this year's ITM Cup.
The first 20 minutes on Saturday was top-notch stuff, and oh for the forwards taking one too many hit-ups or Tyson Keats being too slow at clearing the ball, a couple of further tries would have come in that opening stanza.
The significance of the result could be easily lost by the congested nature of the ladder, especially since Counties Manukau prevailed yesterday. But Taranaki can only control what they do.
There is now two sections split in the competition: the top eight and the bottom six, although Northland remains the unlucky team. Being on 22 points they potentially could sneak in with 37 by securing bonus-point wins in their final three matches. The gum-diggers have being playing a great brand of rugby, but have had a number of narrow losses.
In the seven matches against the other teams in the top eight, Taranaki have won five, lost one and still have what will be a powerful Wellington side to play in a fortnight. That Capital team will bear little resemblance to the brain-dead outfit that BOP beat last Thursday.
It has been the losses to Northland and Hawke's Bay that have undone some of the good work.
Therefore, the attitude must be right this weekend against Manawatu. The Turbos will be up for the clash for certain. There was no love lost between the two unions when Baker and Taylor were lured north and nothing would give the visitors more satisfaction than a win in New Plymouth. With Aaron Cruden back calling the shots, the Taranaki forwards must get up and produce 80 minutes.
A win will almost certainly guarantee a top seven finish, meaning it is essential the Manawatu opportunity is taken.
**Can Taranaki step up and win against Manawatu this Saturday? Post your comments below.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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