There was no energy spared by the New Zealand Select 18s rugby league team as they were narrowly defeated by a classy Australian Schoolboys side at Puketawhero Park in Rotorua.
The winner at the end of the 80 minute bout, on Tuesday evening, was always going to be the team that adjusted best to the wet conditions. In the end that was the Australian Schoolboys.
The team from across the ditch dominated early on, leading to the first try of the match for Ky Rodwell in the opening 15 minutes.
After preventing several more four-pointer attempts from the Australian Schoolboys, the battling New Zealand defensive line let in a try from James Roumano, taking the score to 12-0 with a second successful conversion.
Twenty-five minutes into the first half, New Zealand hit back with a try from Lewis Sio who crashed through a tight Australian defence.
However, the Australian Schoolboys weren't silenced for long as second-rower David Fafita crossed the line for their third try extending the lead to 18-6 following a successful conversion off the boot of Zac Lomax. Fafita's outstanding attacking prowess saw him awarded Most Valuable Player for his side at the post-game ceremony.
After being awarded a penalty minutes before halftime, the Australians took the two points with Zac Lomax continuing his 100 per cent success rate at the goal - New Zealand trailed 20-6 at the break.
The second half started in a similar fashion to the first with the Australian Schoolboys' Luke Huth scoring in the opening 10 minutes. A third successful conversion from Lomax had the visitors in front by 20 points, 26-6.
Then came New Zealand's secret weapon.
The minute South Islander Seth Tauamiti stepped on the field his presence was known. His impressive physicality saw the impact player produce several strong hit-ups which resulted in a well-deserved try. The try was successfully converted by Baylee Bentley-Hape, making the score 26-12.
New Zealand started to gain momentum as they enjoyed more of the possession. A try to Dray Ngatuere-Wroe and another conversion to Baylee Bentley-Hape closed the gap to 26-18.
Despite being presented with further opportunities on the Australians' line, the boys in black and white struggled to adjust to the wet conditions, unable to keep the ball in hand.
New Zealand fought hard and prevented one last try-scoring attempt from the Australians to see the score remain 26-18 at the full-time whistle.
Australian Schoolboys head coach Tony Adam was more than happy with the end result.
"It was an extremely physical contest where our boys were bombarded by a strong New Zealand attack - we also managed to adapt well to the wet conditions. Our side did well to keep turning up even when the Kiwi boys came at them with seven repeat sets.
"Before the match against the New Zealand 18s on Saturday, we'll go away and reflect on our game structures, we've still got improvements to make before then," Adam said.
New Zealand 18s Select head coach Rangi Hiroti was pleased with his side's "gutsy performance".
"I'm proud of how the boys fought back in the second half after the Australians controlled play in the first 40 minutes. We applied a lot of pressure forcing turnovers and repeat sets to get us back in the game. To me, that goes to show that our boys put it all out on the field today," Hiroti said.
If Tuesday's clash was anything to go by, spectators are in for an action-packed game on Saturday morning at Trust Arena in Auckland when the Australian Schoolboys will go up against the New Zealand 18s black jersey team at 11.30am. Included in the New Zealand side for that game is Rotorua Boys' High School's Hayze Perham.
Australian Schoolboys 26 (Ky Rodwell, David Fifita, Luke Huth, James Roumanos tries; Zac Lomax 4 goals; Zac Lomax penalty goal) New Zealand Select 18s 18 (Dray Ngatuere-Wroe, Lewis Sio, Seth Tauamiti tries; Baylee Bentley-Hape 2 goals)