A nail biting weekend of rugby
Sports correspondent & historian
It was nail-biting times for Sideline Sid last weekend as the two rugby sides that he supports with a passion, were made to fight for victory.
While the All Blacks were expected to cruise to victory against the Argies, a torrid battle took place, before the Mighty Blacks exerted their authority in the last quarter.
While the All Blacks have been forced to play catch-up rugby in their last two encounters, superior fitness and self belief when pulling the New Zealand black jersey, have seen the Mighty Blacks get home.
A rejuvenated Springbok side is likely to give the All Blacks a stern test in this seasons Southern Hemisphere Rugby Championship.
For nearly a century, the Boks have been a thorn in the side of the All Blacks with every encounter being treated as all-out war by the two teams.
On Friday night, the Bay of Plenty Steamers also had to fight hard to stay in contention in the Mitre 10 Cup Premiership title race.
Both the Steamers and hosts Manawatu entered the clash in Palmerston North with a one win - two loss record, with victory vital for both sides.
The Bay boys fought like tigers late in the game, to bring home a hard fought three-point win.
Three games in 10 days is likely to define the Steamers 2017 season.
The arduous mid-season campaign kicks off this Friday night against Taranaki in the Naki.
Southland in Rotorua five days later is a absolute must win before another home game encounter, with Counties Manukau at the Tauranga Domain on Sunday week.
In the last decade the Steamers have ridden a roller coaster, which took them from the cusp of the playoffs in the top echelon to near the cellar of the championship division.
The arrival of Clayton McMillan as the Steamers Head Coach and Director of Rugby in 2015, has seen an ongoing transformation in the performance and attitude of Bay of Plenty rugby.
McMillan who skippered the Steamers, was an uncompromising loose forward who played over a century of games in the Bay of Plenty uniform.
His hardnosed approach to the game and passion for the Blue and Gold strip, has been transferred to the current Steamers squad.
However, it's his role as the Bay of Plenty Rugby Director of Rugby, where there has been a quantum shift in the performances of all the Bay representative sides.
Last weekend, the Volcanix continued their startling reversal of form in the Farah Palmer Cup (National Women's Competition) defeating Hawkes Bay 24-10, with the Under 18 Women posting 49 unanswered points against Waikato.
The Bay of Plenty age-group teams continued the weekends unbeaten run, with the Under 18's winning by six with the Under 16 brigade getting home by four. The icing on the cake was Bay of Plenty Pasifika sneaking home by two points from Waikato Samoa.
The challenge facing Bay of Plenty Rugby is to keep all the promising talent of today in Bay of Plenty uniforms in the future.
Go the Steamers.