There are shades of last season's opening gambit with a win and two losses to kick off their national provincial premiership campaign but Waikato now face a tough six days in which to get it back on track.
Last season, Waikato won five of their remaining six matches in the ITM Cup to kick on to their second premiership final in a row.
This year there is the comfort of semifinals to aim for - a top four rather than a top two - but they urgently need to pull all the parts of their game together.
Saturday's 32-22 loss to a good young Auckland side at Eden Park marked a big improvement from the previous week's loss to Northland in terms of sticking to structures and playing to a plan.
But Waikato were badly beaten at the breakdowns by Auckland with ball carriers regularly getting isolated and conceding penalties or turnovers on attack.
Tomorrow night Waikato play their fourth game of the season - against Bay of Plenty, who were hammered 47-13 by Counties-Manukau on Friday night.
The Bay will be hurting as much as Waikato and with a similar one-win, two-loss record.
Waikato head coach Chris Gibbes said there was no time to dwell on their second consecutive loss, with the quick turnarounds involved this week.
They face Bay of Plenty at Waikato Stadium tomorrow night at 7.35 and then head to Wellington to play that side on Saturday afternoon. There is then an eight-day turnaround to prepare for a home fixture against Canterbury.
Gibbes said they would have an immediate review after the Auckland match, bank it and move on.
"I think we were definitely better than we have been, so that's quite pleasing," Gibbes said.
Waikato have further injury problems in their forward pack as they move into a demanding week.
With loose forwards Marty Holah (slight ankle fracture) and Jack Lam (bone bruising and slight ligament tear in knee) already out, Waikato were forced to go into the Auckland game without front-line lock Romana Graham after he fell heavily on his shoulder at training on Thursday and woke up on Friday unable to move it.
Blindside flanker Matt Vant Leven had to instead play at lock, with young backup lock Rory Grice starting at blindside.
Gibbes was waiting to look at results of Graham's scan, while prop Ben May injured a calf muscle in Saturday's game.
"We're looking at it from a point of view of what we've got, not what we don't have.
"Obviously when you lose guys like Jack and Marty it's going to put pressure on any team, but we're looking at it as opportunities for others and we've got a development team that is going pretty well at the moment," he said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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