It was an eye-opener to a new level for the LJ Hooker Wanganui Year 6A side at the annual Riverbend tournament in Napier last week.
In his team report, Mark Lithgow said results didn't quite go their way, but every player achieved something they hadn't before.
First match on January 19 was against a powerful Western Bay of Plenty side, who picked their XI from 60 triallists, and secured up a 75-run win.
Choosing to bat, Western BOP raised 176-6 from their 30 overs, with the pick of Wanganui's bowlers being William Revell (1-8 from three overs) and Zac Burne (1-13 from two).
In reply, Wanganui were in all sorts of trouble at 34-8 until No9 batsman Hunter Lithgow (38 retired) and Oscar Butcher (17) put on a 50 partnership, with Wanganui ultimately all out for 101.
It didn't get easier against local team Havelock North, who wracked up a big 135 run win after they scored 184-3, including two retirements.
At one stage it looked like 200 could be on the cards, but Oscar Butcher (1-9, two) and Logan McKerras (1-18, three) managed to slow things up with wickets.
But in reply, Wanganui were all out for 49, as Lithgow said losing early wickets were again
Daniel Transom and Hamish Cranstone both survived 30-odd balls and managed a boundary, but their side were dismissed by the 23rd over and needed to pick up with another game that afternoon.
They faced Auckland University Green, who despite being a club team, had picked their two squads for the tournament from seven teams at Year 6 level.
Wanganui won the toss and chose to bat, raising a defendable 103-9, thanks to another key innings from the No 9 batsman, as Hamish Cranstone made 27, after Matt Smith contributed 16.
Lithgow said the Wanganui bowlers came out firing, getting good support in the field as all five catching opportunities were claimed, with Auckland bowled out for 82 and a 21-run win.
Revell (3-10, three), Smith (2-6, three) and McKerras (2-9, three) were the pick of the bowlers.
Wanganui could now take some confidence into their next game on January 21 with Auckland's Grafton United side, where they would unfortunately come up just 14 runs short.
Grafton made a very strong start to reach 57-2, before Harry Jurgens (3-6, three) came on to take his three wickets in the space of four balls, with one of his off-cutters even breaking a bail.
The Aucklanders tail recovered to raise 134 before they were dismissed in the 29th over, with Andrew George (2-9, three) and Smith (2-10, three) the other strong bowlers.
In reply, Wanganui lost wickets regularly and appeared to be out of it at 78-8, before George (34) and Smith (20), again taking the magic No 9 spot, helped get their team up to 120 before they were bowled out with 11 balls remaining.
The afternoon saw Wanganui face the stronger Auckland University White team, who would be undefeated in the tournament and picked up a big 102 run win.
Lithgow said the side hung in well with University, who had some classy players and raised 185-7.
Hunter Lithgow (2-13, three) was the best of the bowlers.
Wanganui were never in the hunt to chase down the total but managed to bat out the 30 overs at 83-10, after Smith had made a stylish 23.
Their final match on January 22 was against Auckland's Parnell Top Guns, who had only lost to Auckland University White, and would pick up a five wicket win.
Wanganui won the toss and batted, and Mark Lithgow said Jackson Belliss (14) played some fine shots to get them off to a good start, before Hunter Lithgow (33 retired) helped get them to 126.
The Wanganui bowlers and fielders then put Parnell them under more pressure than they were expecting.
Liam Meijer took a vital wicket to have them teetering at 85-6, but in a tense finish, Parnell's next pair put on a 42-run partnership to get their team the win with 11 balls to spare.
"All in all, a great experience for our young Year 6 team playing against some of the top cricketers in the country at this level," said Lithgow.