Napier Boys' High School's first XV rugby team's season is over.
The Sky Blues, who were beaten finalists at the National Top Four competition last year, lost 16-12 to Palmerston North Boys' High School in the first round of the Hurricanes region knockout competition in Palmerston North today.
"Ill discipline in the second half proved costly. As did our inability to close out key moments when we had them under pressure," NBHS head coach Brendon Ratcliffe lamented afterwards.
Palmrston North had the wind behind them in the first half and took an early 3-0 lead. Napier took a 5-3 lead courtesy of a try to hooker Iafeta Ma'a.
Palmerston North scored a converted try late in the first half and led 10-5 at the interval. Another successful penalty kick saw Palmerston North, who had won the annual Polson Banner clash between the two teams 27-15 last month, take a 13-5 lead.
Napier closed the gap with a try to substitute blindside flanker Rob Slabbekoorn which was converted by fullback Ethyn Martin.
"At that point it was all on but Palmy had the final say with another penalty with three minutes remaining," Ratcliffe said.
Napier lost the services of Hurricanes under-18 prop Jayden Walker with a shoulder injury early in the match. Walker was one of 11 Year 13 players who played their final match for the Sky Blues.
"We don't lose quite as many as last year. I couldn't be more proud of what those 11 players have given this team and their school community. The Year 11 and Year 12 players who were given plenty of opportunities this season will have learnt from the experience and will have a big responsibility next year," Ratcliffe added.
One of those is prop Mitchell Curran who coped admirably when he replaced Walker.
Co captains, inside back Henry Williams and lock Frank Lochore, prop Jake Ward, lock Tom Lourie, Slabbekoorn, loosie Austin Soanai, centre Jack Sheridan, halfback Angus Kilmister and wingers Hayden Saunders and Caleb Turner were the other Year 13 players who had their final outing in NBHS colours today.