The New Zealand Heartland XV could not lift one final time as a physical Hawke's Bay won their final match of the Jock Hobbs Memorial Under 19 tournament 26-16 in Taupo on Saturday.
After a good start into the wind due to the accurate boot of fullback Brad Griffith (Wairarapa Bush), Heartland led 9-0 although they never penetrated Hawke's Bay's 10m area.
But Hawkes Bay had some big front rowers and strong ball carriers on the fringes, with Heartland struggling to break the line.
Whanganui players Hamish Bennett at lock and Chris Breuer at blindside flanker took some hard contact on their carries, although Breuer made himself hard to put down.
Captain Dylan Bowater was rested after a head knock in the Wednesday loss to Southland, with halfback Nathaniel Smith (King Country) taking over the reins.
Hawke's Bay hit back when lock and captain Angus McKnight took a pass off a 5m ruck and muscled his way over, with fullback Isaac Thomas getting past his first two missed to convert for 9-7.
The Bay then attacked in numbers down the wing of Whanganui's Harry Symes, who had to keep coming off his line to make tackles, and eventually the spread allowed standout second-five Al Momoisea to score out wide for 14-9 at halftime.
Bennett was replaced at the break, and his team got the lead back 16-14 after a freakish try when Hawke's Bay tried a midfield bomb near Symes but the ball bounced haphazardly backwards to the alone Heartland reserve Jayden Tegg (Thames Valley), who ran straight under the posts.
Hawke's Bay hit back immediately when they turned over the kickoff and attacked down both sides of the field, before winger Nathan Burton put on a change of pace and step to go over on the far side for 21-16.
Breuer kept working hard in the lineout and with ball in hand, while Symes kept looking to get involved, but Heartland were tiring as Hawke's Bay's big ballrunners kept offloading.
Thomas got the matchwinner when he ran through a gap to score on the same far side, with his team then keeping the ball inside Heartland's half for the remainder of the match.