The Rotorua Boys' High School first XV have come within a point of a miraculous comeback against last year's Super 8 champions Hamilton Boys' High School.
Playing at home on Saturday, two converted tries in the final two minutes were not enough for Rotorua as they fell to a 28-27 defeat. They now sit in fourth place on the Super 8 ladder, but have games in hand over Palmerston North Boys' High School in third and Hamilton in first. Napier Boys' High School are second.
Rotorua Boys' coach Ngarimu Simpkins said going up against Hamilton Boys' always gave his side a "snapshot" of where they were and he was pleased with their efforts.
"Obviously, it's not nice to lose, but we'll take a lot out of that game and I thought it was a pretty respectable scoreline. Hamilton are a pretty sharp team, well structured, and they brought everything we knew they were going to bring.
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"We're not too far off the pace. [The positives are] we can score points, we can score tries and we have some X-factor players there. We're certainly going to build on that during the next couple of weeks. The most pleasing thing is we scored some really nice tries and next time we play them I think we can go in with a little bit of confidence," Simpkins said.
He said his players showed good character throughout the game, especially in their attempts to make a late comeback.
"For the first quarter I felt like we were the team breaking the line and we looked threatening, I thought we were the dominant team. Through the middle patch it was their turn, they were really good and they scored points.
"In the last quarter we played quite unstructured, high tempo rugby and I thought it really worked for us. We managed to score a couple of tries and get ourselves back in the game, but we just ran out of time. We could've thrown the towel in a couple of times but we seemed to bounce back every time they scored - we were mentally tough."
The work-ons for Rotorua were getting the basics right.
"Our execution around our skills, not huge work-ons but just not taking for granted the little things like our catch and pass and our kick execution. There were a couple of times where, if we'd been a bit more on point with those things, we might've seen a different scoreline," he said.
Next week Rotorua Boys' host Hasting Boys' High School who are in fifth place.