Rotorua Boys' High School's reign as Chiefs Cup champions has come to an end after losing 22-14 to Auckland's Wesley College.
Despite the loss on Saturday, Rotorua Boys' co-director of rugby Deon Muir said it was "a really good game".
"Both teams played really well, Wesley improved a lot and played some good rugby. In my opinion they deserved to win in the end, but not because we played badly. It was end-to-end rugby with a lot of line breaks.
"Our strength to date, in the Chiefs Cup, had been our defence and we let ourselves down a bit. It was just uncharacteristic stuff like missing one-on-one tackles. We didn't play badly though, we played some really good rugby and they turned up to play too. It was just two teams who showed up to play, it was pretty tight all the way through, but they just got the points on the board," Muir said.
He said all it really came down to was a couple of key moments that Rotorua Boys' "didn't nail".
"We're growing as a team and playing some good attacking footy. Our learnings from the game are that we can't slip off tackles, that's the biggest thing and nailing those key moments.
"[Wesley College] had some good strong ball carriers in their forward pack and they really attacked the wide channels well. They'd done their homework and at the end of the day they played well."
Muir said the players were disappointed about the lost but he was confident they would learn from it and turn it into a positive going into the Super 8 competition.
"We've got a great bunch of boys and I do think we punch well above our weight. We're often not as big as opposition forward packs, but we've definitely got potential. It's a pre-season tournament, the real business starts now with the Super 8.
"That will be the test of the team, whether they can bounce back from this. We've got a lot of boys with a lot of passion and pride for the school, they're motivated to do well. In terms of motivating the boys, that's not hard, it's just about making sure we do our job as coaches to get them game ready for game days moving forward."