Hastings Boys' High School First XV kept their unbeaten Super 8 record intact after a 29-10 victory over Tauranga Boys' College First XV at Nicholson Field on Saturday.
But the score was flattering to Hastings with two late tries and one member of their coaching staff said it was as tough a game as they had faced all year.
Small solace for Tauranga Boys' who have come close in several games this season.
But they can take great heart from the first half performance that saw them leading 10-7 after completely outplaying a rattled Hastings outfit used to getting their own way this season.
Hastings led 7-3 after scoring with their first real meaningful attack of the half after Tauranga had missed two golden opportunities to make their territorial and possession dominance count on the scoreboard.
Those missed opportunities would end up being crucial to the final outcome.
But they finally got across the tryline when burly prop Sione Afu-Tuputupu crashed over after patient build-up play sparked by yet another telling contribution from livewire halfback Leroy Carter.
Hastings Boys' are Super 8 rugby's surprise package after years of struggling and their halftime talk worked wonders.
They showed why they are the favourites for Top Four this year by completely playing Tauranga Boys' out of the game in the second 35 minute spell.
No matter how hard they tried Tauranga Boys' could not get any phases going inside the Hastings' half and had to defend valiantly for long periods against a bigger team.
Unforced handling errors did not help their cause.
And all that pressure finally paid in the end with four second half tries giving Hastings a comfortable win.
Tauranga Boys' coach Dan Goodwin was both proud and frustrated after a game his side had contributed so much too.
"There is no lack of intent with the boys. They've got big hearts and I am proud of them," he said.
"But we have to learn how to finish games. Hastings are a good side but it is the story of our season really. We compete with anyone for half a game but we let things slide after halftime.
"It is a big learning curve for the boys at this level and every week the boys are learning and getting better.
"Today showed them they can match with the big boys but if you have to play 70 minutes worth of rugby."