Hawke's Bay Magpies utility back Tiaan Falcon was upbeat following the side's 19-15 pre-season loss to Waikato in Taupo on Saturday.
"We got what we wanted out of the game. We tested ourselves against a quality outfit ... most of those guys we played against will be in Waikato's Mitre 10 Cup squad," said the Chiefs player, who was familiar with the majority of the Waikato squad.
As he did for Clive in the previous weekend's 37-7 Maddison Trophy final win against Napier Old Boys Marist, Falcon, 21, took the field as a second half replacement at first five-eighth and was an influential figure. He scored one of the Bay's three tries.
"I was just backing up some hard working boys when I scored that. There are lots of new guys in this squad and we are still working on combinations.
"It will come ... there were lots of positives out there today," Falcon said.
The third generation Magpie labelled sticking to structures and providing more variation on attack as the Magpies' biggest work ons as they prepare for Friday's final pre-season outing against the Manawatu Turbos at Napier's Park Island.
Magpies head coach Mark Ozich gave his team's second half the thumbs-up after the Owen Delany Park encounter.
"In the first half we were a bit passive and went to sleep. We lacked focus and intensity. But in the second half we bounced back well with a bit more intent and lots of positive stuff," Ozich said.
Waikato led 19-5 at halftime. Captain and winger Mason Emerson scored the Bay's only first half try while Waikato scored three quick tries midway through the half.
Powerful loosie Marino Mikaele-Tu'u and Falcon scored the Magpies second half tries. Hooker Ben Power's high physicality levels impressed Ozich.
Prop Joe Apikotoa carried well on attack and shifted opponents well in the collisions. Lock Lui Luamanu shone with his workrate.
New Zealand under-20s No 8 Devan Flanders was full of authority when he took the field in the second half. Fellow substitute loosie Solomone Funaki continued the fine form he displayed for MAC until collecting a cut to his head which required stitches.
Substitute hooker Jacob Devery carried well during his 27-minute shift.
"Yes we were inaccurate with some of our set piece play and decision making. But we can work on that stuff. Josh [assistant coach Syms] and I were pleased with our second half effort ... the way we bounced back and the grind we put in," Ozich added.
■ In the curtainraiser the Hawke's Bay Saracens beat the King Country Heartland team 45-19 after leading 38-7 at halftime. Saracens coach Mutu Ngarimu was impressed with the manner in which his troops turned possession and territory into points.
Hastings centre Timo Vaiusu was outstanding and Havelock North winger Mikey Vuicakau was always dangerous on attack. Clive first five-eighth Tianua Poto led the Saracens with aplomb and did well to convert all six tries and kick a penalty for a 15-point haul.
MAC halfback Johnny Ika provided quality service for Poto. Central lock Tomo Fogarty and Napier Pirate Rugby and Sports flanker Damien Scott were inspirational in the Saracens pack.
The Napier Old Boys Marist pair of halfback Zac Donaldson and front rower Terry Marsh provided quality impact off the pine.
■ Tamatea Pou Tikanga Don Hutana was quick to thank his club's development grade players after they beat division two champions Otane in Hawke's Bay's promotion-relegation rugby clash in Flaxmere on Saturday.
"Our development grade boys knew we were struggling with injuries and they turned out in force for us today. We even got Colin on towards the end," Hutana said referring to 44-year-old club stalwart Colin Mataira after the Flaxmere Park clash which Tamatea won 22-5.
Tamatea led 10-0 at halftime. Former Hawks basketballer Mataeus Marsh played first five-eighth for Tamatea and scored two tries. Winger Roger Paewai and lock Johnny Wang scored the other tries and halfback Ash Robinson kicked a conversion.
Hutana praised the high fitness levels and solid defensive work produced by Otane.
"That score didn't reflect the game. Tamatea had a couple of X-factor-type tries but other than those it was close," Otane coach and former Magpies winger Shannan Chase said.
"Considering we were missing so many key players I was really pleased with what we did. Our commitment levels were nothing short of good and considering the poor weather our little village turned out in force."
Fullback Czebalos Smiler, another former Hawks basketballer, scored Otane's try. Prop Hayden Rapana and lock Nevada Hemopo were an inspirational pair in the Otane pack and centre Jacob Kennedy, a former Magpie, displayed the benefits of his vast experience in the Otane backline.
Otane last played premier rugby in 2006 and unless something changes next year the premier competition will have the same 10 teams for the 13th consecutive season.