In recent times, the Tauranga Boys' College first XV have been seen as the little brother of their Rotorua Boys' High School counterparts, forced to watch on as their close rivals dominated locally and at a national level. In the first round of the Super 8 First XV Championship earlier this year, it was the same old story, Rotorua beating Tauranga comfortably 29-13. Yesterday, the two sides went head-to-head again, this time in a knockout Bay of Plenty final to see who would progress to the next stage of Top Four Nationals qualification. Sports reporter David Beck was there.
Tauranga Boys' trailed Rotorua Boys' 23-20. Time was up but they had a penalty just outside the 22m on the right-hand side of the field. A draw would be enough for Tauranga to progress as they had scored the first try of the match.
Step up captain Hunter Dickson, the side's inspirational leader and second five. In the back of his mind was a similar kick he had missed against Hamilton Boys' just weeks earlier, a kick which would've won the game.
He took his time, a few deep breaths and started his run-up. The connection was sweet, the ball sailed between the sticks and the linesmen raised their flags. The Tauranga Boys' first XV players erupted. They had finally done it. They had beaten Rotorua Boys'.
The result means Tauranga will go on to play the Taranaki region winner in the next stage of Top Four nationals qualifying. Rotorua are left to start planning for next season.
After the game, Dickson said in his five years at the school, it was the first time he had been on the winning side against a Rotorua Boys' first XV.
"It feels amazing. This week everyone's been training well, we were feeling real good after the season. Our Super 8 didn't go the way we wanted it to but we came back now, this is the second part of the season and we're ready."
He said the atmosphere around the team was different during the week leading up to the game.
"Normally, it's an older brother sort of thing, everyone thinks 'Rotorua again'. This year was different, after that first game at the start of the season we knew we could take them. It's an amazing feeling."
Before the game had even kicked off the visitors showed their intent with a passionate haka to which the line of Rotorua Boys' players walked towards, the face-to-face encounter setting the scene for what would be an epic game of rugby.
The game was a tight nervy affair throughout. The side's traded penalties to make the score 3-all before Tauranga first five Lucas Cashmore scored the first try of the match, running onto a chip over the defensive line to go in under the posts.
Rotorua hit back through winger Te Hemara Gardiner-Toi to reduce the deficit to 8-10 but Tauranga struck again, second five Dickson running onto a beautiful offload by winger Chad Isiah-Roberts to score and make it 15-8.
Rotorua hooker and captain Bernie Hati scored under the posts on the brink of halftime. The try was converted and the scores were locked at 15-all.
Rotorua started the second half strongly but struggled to penetrate the defensive line. Having absorbed the pressure, Tauranga worked their way up field and scored through prop Kaharoa Takuira-Mita to take a 20-15 lead.
With 10 minutes left to play, Rotorua first five Tome Poona scored to make it 20-all. With five minutes left he kicked a penalty and Rotorua led 23-20. They looked to have the match sewn up with time running out.
However, Tauranga refused to go away and won a penalty on fulltime. The rest is history.
Tauranga Boys' coach Dan Goodwin said he was "extremely proud of the boys".
"It was tough, it was always going to go down to the wire. There were ups and downs but I'm just proud of them. They showed a huge amount of grit down in defensive."
He struck it beautifully and it was well deserved because he's been a fantastic leader this year for the boys. He's a fantastic kid, there's no doubt about his character.
He said Dickson stepping up for the kick showed the character of the young man and was just reward for a season in which he had excelled.
"He struck it beautifully and it was well deserved because he's been a fantastic leader this year for the boys. He's a fantastic kid, there's no doubt about his character."
Rotorua Boys' co-director of rugby Ngarimu Simpkins was disappointed about the result but said it was a "great Baywide final".
"We'd been watching Tauranga's progress all year and they had been really close to some of the best schools in New Zealand. We knew exactly what to expect and to be fair to them I think they were the dominant team in the first 20 minutes. Their energy was far better than ours, they really brought it and full credit to them.
"It was a good game and that's how you want finals rugby. I take my hat off to Tauranga, they did really well. Obviously the boys are a bit devastated but that's the nature of sport and part of the bigger story for our boys. A lot of them will leave this year and continue on their journey but they certainly did our jersey proud."