They finished runners-up but Hereworth School did Hawke's Bay proud during the primary schoolboys' cricket tournament in their quest for national supremacy a fortnight ago.
The Hastings integrated school set the benchmark when they clinched the Spirit of Cricket bat award at Lincoln, near Christchurch, when the five-day National Primary School Cup finals concluded on November 20.
That resounding tick of approval isn't at the behest of something intrinsic but ingrained into the school's disciplinary system that headmaster Trevor Barman aptly refers to as "winning the handshake".
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Barman impresses on the young charges to not lose sight of the protocol that will help them build a more tensile template when embarking into adulthood.
"[Those aspects] are just sometimes missing from sport these days," says team manager Lincoln Doull of the Paul Unwin-coached green brigade.
"It's all purely judged by the umpires and it's all about how our boys went out there to ask for 'Centre please, sir?'," he says.
Marrying the merits of social etiquette with the prowess of cricket in the training nets and open-wicket sessions is fundamental to that development at an impressionable and defining age.
"There were a couple of cases where when the opposition batted quite well, one or two of our boys walked 30 to 40 metres to give the guy a pat on the back or shake his hand when he got out."
Doull, who is the sports director at the school, says when the Francis Kirkland-captained Hereworth players claimed wickets they celebrated with decorum rather than stray on the path of immaturity.
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"It's a little bit about what Paul, Neil [McCorkell], Nick [Lorentz], myself and all the staff teach the boys," explains the elder brother of former Black Caps international Simon Doull.
"It's as much about the off-field and how you carry yourself as well as how you play the game."
McCorkell, a year 7 teacher, mentors the school's second XI to ensure there's a well-trodden path of continuity to the first XI before many of them head off to Lindisfarne College. Unwin, a retired domestic cricketer/coach, is a year 8 teacher while Lorentz is a year 6 one and third XI mentor.
Hereworth has claimed the national bragging rights only once, more than a decade ago, although they have inevitably made it to the finals in the past 10 years.
That includes the current crop of Lindisfarne College first XI cricketers competing in the five-day Gillette Cup secondary schoolboys' finals at the same venue from tomorrow.
Doull, a former domestic cricketer/coach who went on to represent New Zealand in the indoor format, singles out allrounder Jasper Howard, Kirkland and Mickey Peacock as exemplary in helping establish a standard that others had admirably aspired to.
Peacock picked up the overall MVP award at the end of the tourney after opposition coaches and managers had cast votes.
Leg spinner Finn Reid "was the most brutal throughout the tournament", going for a shade over two runs an over while Harry Cassidy was among the highest wicket takers.
Hereworth beat John McGlashan College (Dunedin) by seven wickets in their opening encounter but the next match against Raroa Normal Intermediate School (Wellington) was abandoned, with all other games, due to inclement weather.
They then beat Kings College (Auckland) by 26 runs in round three before having the measure of Berkley Normal Middle School (Hamilton) by five wickets.
Hereworth, who headed into the final round two points ahead of the other major association district qualifiers by two points, need an outright result but succumbed to hosts Medbury School (Christchurch) by 22 runs.
Doull says all bar one player will return next year so their work is cut out but they'll keep their faith in the system of continuity.
"Paul doesn't just work with the first XI all the time so we make a point of involving year 7s from the second XI so they have been learning all the time this year.
"It's not by chance that we have a pretty reasonable team every year because there's planning and work with the board looking at new ideas and incentives in terms of buildings and properties to help out sport so there's always something happening here," he says.