The Whangārei Boys' High School first XV made history on Friday, beating Westlake Boys' High School's first XV for the first time in four years.
Known as the juggernaut of the North Harbour 1A first XV competition, Westlake travelled to Northland for their first away game of the season only to record their first loss in 2019 to Whangārei Boys' High School (WBHS), 14-5.
WBHS first entered the North Harbour competition in 2016 and up until now, had not beaten the Auckland school in three full seasons.
Thanks to a tremendous defensive effort from the home team in wet and windy conditions, WBHS triumphed in a game played at the school in front of hundreds of cheering and chanting classmates.
"When the final whistle blew, we were pretty happy," WBHS captain Max Brunker said.
"We were jumping up and down because Westlake is one of the best rugby schools in the country, so it's a pretty big accomplishment."
Brunker, who was in his second year with the team but first as captain, said the team needed to treat the game against Westlake as if it was just another fixture.
"We knew which players to target and who was dangerous but I pretty much prepared myself like any other match," he said.
"We did need to be smarter on the field but I told the boys at training beforehand not to change their routine, just to be ready when they came here on Friday afternoon."
WBHS drew first blood after a rousing haka from more than 400 of the school's students, scoring through tighthead prop Ethan Wikaira after about 15 minutes of play. Converted by Brunker, the score stayed at 7-0 until the visitors crossed the line early in the second half.
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As the clock ticked down and the rain grew heavier, WBHS repelled wave after wave of Westlake attack. With about five minutes to go in the game, a great effort from WBHS number eight and 2018 under-17 Blues development squad member Jordan Dwight saw the home side leading 14-5 when the whistle blew for fulltime.
Brunker said the team's defensive structure was outstanding in conditions which tested both sides.
"Our defence won us the game, we didn't have too many opportunities in the backs because it was so wet and windy, but our forwards just played amazing all game."
After an upset loss to Manurewa High School earlier in the season, WBHS sit in second on the eight-team table and one point behind Westlake, whose only loss has been against WBHS.
Brunker said the WBHS' chemistry and brotherhood would be key assets if they were to win the competition.
"We're a good attacking team, our defence is matching up and it's just a good brotherhood in the team, everyone's enjoying it this year.
"After that game, we know how hard we've got to work now to get the title at the end of the year."
In three seasons, WBHS had only made one semifinal along with two fifth-place finishes.
Last year, WBHS had a horror run before the finals, losing five of their seven games to finish fifth.
With one game to go in round one, WBHS coach Harry Darkins was convinced this year's side could put 2018's heartbreak behind them.
"Those boys that played last year were hurting, they were in tears at end of those games because we managed to fall short at the final hurdle," he said.
"We learned a lot from how the players felt last year and I know they are going to be a lot better for that as rugby players."
Normally, WBHS play their games on Saturdays but with Westlake having their senior ball on Saturday evening, Darkins feared the Auckland school might send a weaker team and scheduled the game for Friday.
"I wanted to make sure we were playing their top side, not a B team, which they may have put out if they had players who were committed to the ball.
"We've got the team to beat anyone in this competition and that's why we decided to play on Friday."
Along with assistant coach Paul Leyland and strength and conditioning coach Jason Hannah, Darkins said he was proud of the team's efforts which showed the potential they had for the rest of the season.
"We don't want to get complacent, even though it's a win over Westlake who are the benchmark of this competition, but it definitely shows we have what it takes to make the final and potentially win it."
WBHS finish round one against Massey High School in Auckland on Saturday before playing five games against the top five teams in round two. The top four teams after round two will play in semifinals.