Defending champions Napier Boys' High School came fourth at the Super 8 football tournament which ended in Hamilton yesterday.
The Marty Akers-coached side lost 2-1 to Palmerston North Boys' High School in the playoff for third. Palmy led 2-0 at halftime.
"The first half was pretty even but Palmy scored two late goals. In the second half we showed a lot of character and scored a goal," centre midfielder Luis Toomey said.
"We spent the last 20 minutes trying to get an equaliser and while we had most of the ball we couldn't do it," Toomey added.
Striker Harry Mason scored Napier's goal. Captain Kaeden Atkins, a Napier City Rovers Central League squad member, led his troops by example with quality stints at centre back in the first half and centre midfielder in the second.
The Grant Hastings-coached Hastings Boys' High School team finished sixth after losing 1-0 to New Plymouth Boys' High School in the playoff for fifth. New Plymouth scored the only goal late in the second half.
"We played good football and created enough chances. New Plymouth were a big and strong team and quite direct. We coped well with that ... I couldn't be happier with a sixth placing after two eighths during the last two years," coach Hastings said.
"This is huge improvement and a credit to the boys. We only had two year 13 players," he added.
Striker Jack Parker, Hastings player of the tournament, again impressed yesterday. Captain Aidan Robson was enterprising in the midfield.
National champions Hamilton Boys' High School beat Tauranga Boys' College 3-2 in the final. Napier Boys' High School will attend the national premier tournament in Christchurch in September and Hastings Boys' High School will tackle a second tier tournament in Napier.