The Kiwitag league season ended on Tuesday night with a big crowd to watch the finals at Waipuna Park in glorious conditions.
The finals were the culmination of seven rounds of round robin play.
The Kiwitag module for primary and intermediate schools has been going for nine years and has grown from 13 teams when it started, to 35 teams this year, and featured more than 400 eager players in three divisions of Year 3-4, Year 5-6 and Year 7-8.
Len Reid, the BOP Coachforce Officer for rugby league, says the competition has grown quickly and is an important part of the junior rugby league programme.
"Kiwitag is the beginning of our development programme and is not a stand-alone sport," he said.
"It is a non-contact introduction to rugby league and a great introduction to the game.
"We started nine years ago with four schools in Selwyn Ridge, Kaimai, Maungatapu and Tauranga Intermediate.
"It was good to see some of the boys who started with us in Year 3-4, and who have played through the grades, are now at Tauranga Boys' and they did the refereeing for us."
Welcome Bay's Selwyn Ridge fielded the most teams with nine across Year 3-4 and Year 5-6, while Maungatapu had six teams across the two grades.
In the Year 7-8 division, Tauranga Intermediate had six teams out of the 10 entered, with the others from Mount Intermediate, Bethlehem's Te Wharekura o Mauao, Te Puna and Kaimai schools.
The major finals on Tuesday produced some close games and plenty of exciting play.
In the Year 3-4 final, Selwyn Ridge came back from 4-0 down against Mount Maunganui school St Thomas More to eventually win 5-4 in extra time.
St Thomas More had their revenge over Selwyn Ridge in the Year 5-6 final while the Year 7-8 final also went to golden point extra time, with Mount Intermediate getting up 3-2 over Te Puna.