Contrasting philosophies are at the crux of what appears to be the major difference between high fliers and Hawke's Bay campaigners during the New Zealand Secondary Schools premier boys' national football tournament in Napier this week.
A quick huddle form Hastings Boys' High, Havelock North High and Napier Boys' High school coaches has concluded their arch rivals tend to embrace the ideology of building from the back to working the ball up the field patiently to earn the right to score a goal as opposed to pushing the ball up to the stock exchange as quick as possible for profitable returns.
Put another way, the Bay schools are adopting a more direct approach at the hard and fast Park Island fields.
"It's rock hard," said HBHS coach Grant Hastings. "It's like playing in April, not September so the boys are complaining of sore feet because the ground's too hard."
NBHS coach Grant Bundle echoed the sentiments of Hastings in having a sniff of top 16 against the big boys and proud of his boys in showing resilience to fight back.
"It's always going to be difficult coming in a tournament where there are many different styles of play in a country," Bundle said, revealing he had discussed the issue with HNHS counterpart Bruce Barclay.
"I think we're probably more direct whereas with them [Aucklanders, Wellingtonians] they've got this idea that football has to be played in a certain way where you've got to have so many passes before you can score a goal."
He said for the Bay trio attack and defence were the major areas of focus in trying to out score the oppositions.
Top Bay qualifiers HNHS coach Bruce Barclay suspected that had a lot to do with the time coaches could dedicate to their schools, something that seemed to favour Aucklanders.
"Playing direct is a lot simpler to implement with limited time frames with the kids so I don't think we have that luxury of time with our kids," he said. "To get structures in for total football takes time so if you don't have it you have to come up with something else to be effective."
HBHS, he felt, were doing a fine job of it in playing to their strengths through an academy.
However, Barclay said while it was difficult to predict the seedings and strengths of outside schools it was no excuse for how his charges had performed.
"The passion those young guys show is quite admirable," he said.
He felt a true reflection was how HBHS and NBHS had had previous exposure at the premier national level while HNHS weren't and it showed.
"They've probably got a better handle on what's the level of commitment and, you know, you've got kids charging into tackles and getting cheers from their crowds so they grow an extra arm and leg so that's what probably caught us a little by surprise on the first day and by the time we fixed that, it was probably too late."
NBHS and HBHS both bowed out of the 9-16 playoff matches today, the former going down 5-4 on a sudden-death penalty-kick shootout after they were locked 1-all against Rutherford College (Auckland). Centre-mid Harry Lack struck first to lead 1-0 at halftime but the opposition counterpart struck a 30m blinder that clipped the bottom of the crossbar to jag into the net for the equaliser.
The Sky Blues were reduced to 10 men with 10 minutes left after left wing Liam Percy-Fysh had collected a straight red for a crude tackle and dissent.
"I'm pretty upset for the boys," said Bundle who revealed they had started sluggishly but had factored in the boys were playing four games in three days.
He said after the game the referee had depreciated the red card to a yellow one on account of how NBHS supporters had reacted and how the opposition player had antagonised Percy-Fysh.
"I think the ref had done the right thing in how to use a tool to calm the situation down on the field."
Japan exchange pupil Iato Shimbato missed the second sudden-death penalty kick.
In pool D, NBHS, who are wild card entries, held Auckland Grammar to a 3-all draw after coming back from 2-0 down at halftime on Monday.
Percy-Fysh scored twice and centre-mid Luis Toomey levelled from a free kick.
The Sky Blues were 1-0 down to St Patrick's Silverstream (Wellington) in the first half but came back with a don't-argue 4-1 victory.
Toomey bagged a hat trick of goals while right winger Shimbato came off the bench to join the party with a goal.
Needing a win or draw to progress to the top 16 yesterday, NBHS went up 1-0 in the second half from a Toomey penalty kick after centre-mid Lack was fouled in the 18m box but Hamilton Boys' High equalised with 10 minutes to go.
In the afternoon, NBHS went down 5-1 to pool E top qualifiers St Peter's (Auckland) after trailing 2-0 at halftime.
NBHS clawed back to 2-1 from a Toomey penalty kick but as they pushed high for an equaliser the Aucklanders punished the spent Sky Blues.
They play St Paul's Collegiate at 9.30am in the 13 to 16 playoffs tomorrow.
HBHS found no respite against top Auckland seeds St Kentigern's, slumping 8-2 after trailing 4-1 at the break today.
Strikers Jack Parker and Jarvis Alatise scored for them.
Earlier in pool B, HBHS kept St Patrick's College (Wellington) honest with a 2-all stalemate after they were locked 1-all at the break on Monday.
They had levelled both times with centre-mid Alex Eaglestone and Alatise getting on the ref's scorecard.
They went down 2-1 to Sacred Heart College (Auckland) next although they were up 1-0 at halftime from Parker's goal.
"They scored the winner with six minutes to go but we gave them one heck of a fright," said Hastings.
Needing to beat Burnside by a two-goal margin and requiring St Pat's to slump by a one or more goals margin to Sacred Heart, Hastings Boys' prayers were answered when they beat the Christchurch school 2-0 and saw the Wellingtonians slump 3-0. Parker and winger Matthew Woodhead, coming off the bench, found the net for HBHS.
However, the red and blues lost 4-2 to Mt Albert Grammar (Auckland) by 4-2 despite holding them 1-all at the break in the playoffs for last 16 yesterday afternoon.
Parker scored from a penalty kick to level 1-all while leftback Nick Yorke found the other equaliser from a set-piece move.
For Hastings, it was an opportune time to test the depth of their squad after Yorke and Eaglestone had picked up "serious knee injuries" and Alatise was suspended in the morning yesterday to miss the afternoon match.
"We're a small and light squad in stature so we found it challenging a little," said Hastings, revealing half his squad are year 11s compared with mostly year 13s from Mt Albert.
"To get in the top 16 for the first time in a very, very long time has been a huge effort but you can't rest on that and want to finish as high as you possibly can."
HBHS face Rathkeale College (Wairarapa) in the 13 to 16 playoffs tomorrow.
Havelock North, whose results weren't available today, lost 2-0 to Hutt International Boys in pool E after keeping them scoreless in the first half of their opening encounter on Monday.
Next they went down 3-1 to St Peter's College (Auckland) after the city slickers loaded 3-0 in the first 35-minute half.
Centre-mid Luca Barclay scored the first goal for his side when he finished off a one-two staccato of moves from the top edge of the box in the second half.
Coach/father Barclay said he had given the boys "a rocket" at halftime and they had responded accordingly in winning that half before showing more resolve.
Yesterday they went down 1-0 to Cashmere High (Christchurch) who also were desperate to eke out a 2-0 victory to progress to the higher playoffs.
"They also were chasing the game so it was exciting for both sides for very different reasons," said Barclay, adding Cashmere were devastated they hadn't accomplished that although it only reaffirmed HNHS weren't easy beats.
In the 17-32 playoffs yesterday afternoon, HNHS drew 2-all against Hamilton BHS after neither side could score in the first half.
Right winger Liam O'Reilly drew first blood but Hamilton levelled before going up 2-1 after striker Guy Reeves had equalised.