It's finals footy time ... take the easy three-pointers when they're on offer.
This message needs to be written in bold letters on a white board and placed in the Hastings Boys High School 1st XV rugby team's changing room before each of their remaining games this season so the troops don't forget to do it. Two easy penalty kicks in the 13th minute of both halves were turned down by Hastings when they drew their televised Super 8 final 12-all against Hamilton Boys' High School in Hastings on Saturday.
Because Hamilton scored the first try of the match when hooker Tane Te Aho was shoved across the line after a lineout drive in the 43rd minute Hamilton were awarded the trophy.
One would have thought the Hastings players would have learnt from last year's national final 14-13 loss to Mount Albert Grammar how crucial it can be not to take the easy three pointers as one sitter was turned down in that match and at the final whistle it could have been the difference.
"We're sticking to our policy of running it from those penalties. The boys make those calls out on the field," Hastings head coach Tafai Ioasa said afterwards.
"That was the reality check we need. It was a good ding-dong battle which could have gone either way. We had multiple oportunities which we couldn't capitalise on and our cleanouts at the break down could have been better," Ioasa said.
"But to go up there and beat them one week and have them come down here and draw with us the following week is still pretty good. That's a draw ... not a loss. It's going to be good to have next week off and after that we're into top-16 play where we will take things week by week," Ioasa added.
While the Super 8 trophy has gone Ioasa's lads will still be able to take plenty of positives out of Saturday's clash. The fact so many scoring opportunities were created against quality opposition is the big one and it mustn't be forgotten that the team remains unbeaten after 17 games this season with 957 points in the for column and 66 in the against.
Both of Hastings tries were crackers. Outstanding second five-eighth Danny Toala scored the first in the 60th minute after a period of sustained pressure.
Toala set up halfback Folau Fakatava's try in the final quarter. Lock Tane Hohipa was close behind Toala in the battle for the host's player of the match award as he secured all of his lineout throws, several of Hamilton's and was busy in general play.
Captain and loosehead prop Kianu Kereru-Symes was inspirational on defence while tighthead prop Josiah Metcalf was powerful on the carry. Flanker Liam Udy-Johns shone with his support play.
Hamilton head coach Nigel Hotham thought the trophy was going to be shared until he was informed of the rules as the players shook hands.
"We're happy to take it but I'm sure this won't be the last time these two teams meet this season," Hotham said as he predicted both teams are good enough to do what they did last year and reach the national top-four competition later in the season.
Hawke's Bay-raised halfback Brad McNaughten and busy blindside flanker Charles Alamalo were among Hamilton's best.
"But I couldn't have asked for more from the whole team. They worked their backsides off in the second half," Hotham added.
Napier Boys High School were pipped 21-20 by Palmerston North Boys' High School in their Hurricanes region qualifier in Napier on Saturday. Napier had an early 8-0 lead but Palmerston North gained the upperhand when wet weather hit Napier according to the host's manager, Rex Newman.
Palmerston North led 14-13 at halftime. Vice captain and halfback Humphrey Sheild joined centre Nathan Giles as the best of the Napier backs in their team's final outing of the season.
Hooker Tyrone Thompson, openside flanker Luke Russell and substitute loosie Sam Henderson were prominent in the Napier pack.
Hamilton Boys' High School 12 (Tane Te Aho, Tevita Faa'kafa tries; Coby Miln con), Hastings Boys' High School 12 (Danny Toala, Flau Fakatava tries; Toala con). HT: 0-all.
Palmerston North Boys' High School 21, Napier Boys' High School 20 (Luke Russell, Dan Sharplin, Lolani Faleiva tries; Nikau McGregor pen, con). HT: 14-13.