The country boys got a bit lost in the big city as the Heartland Hurricanes and their six Wanganui Under 20 players got hammered 83-7 by Wellington Under 19 at Westpac Stadium on early Friday evening.
While Jamie-Lee Robertson was unavailable due to injury, the squad moved more of their Wanganui players into starting positions for their second and toughest Central Region Shield match, which was played as the curtain-raiser to the Mitre 10 Cup game.
Kohlt Coveny, Josefa Rokotakala, Jason Myers retained their positions at hooker, lock and openside flanker respectively, while Tiari Tokotaua-Mumby moved from second-five to centre and Jack O'Leary made his first start at fullback.
Lamaire Meunier remained on the bench.
After conceeding two rapid tries, Hurricanes hit back with a seven pointer of their own for 14-7.
However, after that, team manager Chris Back said the floodgates opened.
"For 20 minutes, we were in the fight, but second half, they scored 4-5 quick tries and blew the score out."
Myers gave an exceptional performance, while Rokotakala deserves credit as he came off with a sore ankle but later returned to the fray.
However, the rest of the team, made up of young players from five Heartland unions, were just overwhelmed by a stacked home side.
Lock Taine Plumtree, a New Zealand Under 20's representative and the son of Hurricanes Super Rugby coach John, scored a hat trick of tries.
Other standouts were second-five Keenan Higgins and the Thompson twins – hooker Tyrone and centre Leo – players who have all started to come through the full Hurricanes Under 20 squad and the Development XV, where Back has watched them as the programme's manager.
"Wellington academy has been training since January-February."
The Heartland Hurricanes have short camps together, while a couple of players they would normally have in the squad have been required for their home unions with the Mitre 10 Heartland Championship kicked off on Saturday.
Still, the group got to spend time at the Hurricanes training base this week, where John Plumtree and his assistant Jason Holland came to work with them, while also doing a marae visit as a team.
It was also a rare chance to get to play on the big stage at the stadium.
"For some, it will be a once in a lifetime," said Back.
The team's last game is this Saturday against Manawatu Under 19's in Palmerston North.