Their rate of improvement has been so rapid this year, the Tauranga Boys' College first XV may never want the 2019 secondary school rugby season to end. Last weekend, they did the unthinkable and beat Rotorua Boys' High School in Rotorua to secure progression to the Chiefs region semifinals – the first step on the path to claiming their place at the New Zealand First XV Top Four Tournament. In the semifinal yesterday, they hosted New Plymouth Boys' High School who they beat 14-5 in the second round of the Super 8 championship. A win would ensure an epic season continued.
The Tauranga Boys' College first XV 2019 campaign continues to gather momentum, a hard-fought 15-9 win over New Plymouth Boys' High School booking them a place in the Chiefs region final.
Hamilton Boys' High School won the other semifinal 26-10 against Wesley College and will host Tauranga next weekend for a place at the New Zealand First XV Top Four Tournament.
Tauranga Boys' coach Dan Goodwin said his side spent time practising how to close out a game during the week so it was good to see them do it under pressure against New Plymouth.
"It was a good result, they played well and hung in there. It could've gone either way right to the end. I'm proud of the boys, it was a tough game but they played some great rugby.
"It's cool when you practise things like closing out a game and then they actually get it right and put it together, it's good to see."
He said his players were thriving on a do-or-die mentality.
"We know that all this rugby, you have to play your best rugby every week and our boys seem to be climbing into it. They're looking forward to an opportunity against Hamilton."
Tauranga Boys' will take some confidence going into the final - when they played eventual winners Hamilton in the Super 8 round robin, they went down 21-19, missing a penalty in the dying minutes which would've won the game.
"The boys are looking forward to having another crack at them. We know they're a very good side, they're very clinical, but we're excited to have that opportunity to have another go at them."
Goodwin said the win over New Plymouth was a real team effort with many players having outstanding games.
"Kaharoa Takuira-Mita, our prop, carried the ball well, he was aggressive on defence and brought some real steel to the game. He really led from the front. Josh Bartlett as well, the other prop, he had another good game.
"Heaps of them played well but [second five] Hunter Dickson, again, was tough and [first five] Lucas Cashmore, he played well against Rotorua as well and probably didn't get much recognition.
"The cool thing about it is they scored some unreal tries and they were team tries, through countless sets of hands and the boys actually looked like they were having some real fun out there."
He said watching the players progress throughout the season was one of the joys of coaching.
"All of the coaching staff, we're enjoying it. It's been a learning curve for us but it's awesome watching these fellas grow and they've tasted a little bit more success. That's probably because they believe in each other."
Tauranga will play Hamilton in Hamilton on Saturday, August 31.
Chiefs region semifinal results:
Hamilton Boys' High School 26 Wesley College 10
Tauranga Boys' College 15 New Plymouth Boys' High School 9