Disappointment and frustration was etched all over the faces of Ngongotaha players and supporters when the final whistle rang out yesterday.
The home side suffered a heartbreaking 17-16 loss to Opotiki in Premier 2 at the Ngongotaha Domain thanks to a converted try in the remaining quarter of the game.
Ngongotaha were leading 10-0 at half time thanks to a Scott Bogun converted try and a Tute Grant penalty.
However Opotiki showed their Premier 1 calibre in the second half, dominating possession and taking the hard fought victory after two converted tries and a penalty.
Ngongotaha captain Courtney Mita was disappointed with the result but said his side were 'outplayed' in the second half and didn't get crucial basics right.
"I thought our first half was really good. We kept in strong in our forward line and battled hard," he said.
"But it's an 80-minute game and Opotiki were clearly not giving up. They were very strong in the second half and I thought we were a bit quiet.
"It was our basics again that we need to work on. Our lineout was really affected, we had new combinations and it didn't go our way with them today.
"The result is a good learning curve for us and we must improve if we want to compete at that top four level for the prems next year."
It was always going to be a close encounter with Ngongotaha finishing first in Division 1 and Opotiki dropping down from the top tier after finishing second from bottom.
But it was Ngongotaha who drew first blood when winger Bogun finished a fast attacking phase after receiving a neat offload from Thorne Chadwick in the right corner after 10 minutes, which Grant converted.
The home side extended their lead five minutes later after Grant's first penalty kick of the game which he confidently struck between the posts from a central angle.
Opotiki's best chance of the first half came after 25 minutes with a promising attack off a powerful scrum within Ngongotaha's 22m line, however the ball was knocked on just in front of the posts.
And two minutes later Opotiki threatened again down the right side but had a try held up on the line.
After the break the away side attacked from the off and were rewarded when fullback Mana Howe darted past several players in Ngongotaha's 22 and dived over in the right corner.
Howe then picked himself up to convert the try taking the scoreline to 10-7 after 50 minutes.
Errors then racked up in the game with Ngongotaha's Grant kicking over two penalties either side of an Opotiki's's Howe one, taking the score to 16-10 after 68 minutes. But one minute later, after the build up of considerable Opotiki pressure, flanker Ned Fitzgerald crashed over over from close range off the back of a solid lineout in Ngongotaha's 22, converted by Howe.
Ngongotaha had the opportunity to snatch the game with two minutes to go when they had a lineout right on their opponent's try line.
However inaccurate throwing off their set piece, not for the first time in the game, cost them as the ball sailed straight into opposition hands much to the disgruntlement of a clearly frustrated home crowd.
Opotiki player/coach Dean Elmiger was pleased with the result, however was expecting a bigger win with his side who are eager to finish in the top four this season.
"It wasn't ideal chasing from behind. But then it makes it all the more sweeter when you do get that result," he said.
"We were expecting a bigger win today. I just think we didn't capitalise on our opportunities when we were going forward.
"We have to build pressure and phases and make sure we get away from that 50-50 stuff where we have to compete constantly against the opposition.
"This is a stepping stone. I hope we are good enough to be pushing for that top four. That's what we are working towards."
Meanwhile in Premier 2 Waikite also suffered a similar fate to Ngongotaha - losing by a point at home to Poroporo with the game finishing 34-33.
Whilst Marist St Michael's suffered a crushing 61-0 home defeat at the hands of Whakarewarewa, which coach Mike Lewis was disheartened about.
"Whaka pumped us. It was a really tough game and a great eye opener for the boys if we want to stay up in the prem division in the future," he said.
In Premier 1 Rotoiti dramatically drew for the second week in a row as it finished 25 all at Emery Park against Rangataua with Rotoiti's Logan Henry, Joe Royal, Bauro Kairoi, Matt Landers, and Beau Kiel all sliding over for the home side.
Baywide Premier 1 Results:
Rotoiti 25 Rangataua 25
Tauranga Sports 20 Mount Maunganui 44
Te Puna 46 Whakatane Marist 36
Te Puke Sports 48 Greerton Marist 20
Baywide Premier 2 Results:
Ngongotaha 16 Opotiki 17
Waikite 33 Poroporo 34
Marist St Michael's 0 Whakarewarewa 61
Paroa 21 Arataki 20
Baywide Premier 1 Points:
Mount Maunganui Sports 10
Te Puna 9
Te Puke Sports 6
Tauranga Sports 4
Whakatane Marist 3
Greerton Marist 1
Baywide Premier 2 Points:
Marist St Michael's 4