There was a new generation of players on both sides, but the 100-year rivalry which was relit last winter played out another competitive chapter on Saturday, as Whanganui Collegiate 1st XV finished just short of New Plymouth Boys High, 25-22.
The one-sided nature of these traditional fixtures had ceased last year when a very strong Collegiate team went to the intimidating Gully Ground in New Plymouth to upset NPBHS 32-26.
In the return game on Collegiate's No1 field, the new-look home side started strongly with No 8 Josefa Namosimalua leading the hitups, as Collegiate got over the tryline but were called back for a knock-on.
NPBHS then moved onto attack with winger Samuela Vakadula making a good run before Collegiate skipper and first-five Harry Godfrey cut him down, but the buildup led to a penalty for the visitors, which their first-five Jack Parker landed after it bounced over from the cross bar.
Collegiate's forwards worked hard to regain momentum, and earned a 17th penalty opportunity for halfback Adam Lennox to tie the scores.
NPBHS regathered the kickoff and put pressure on Collegiate's dangerzone, where they made an error trying to clear the ball to concede a try and trail 8-3 at halftime.
The Taranaki school then looked to press their advantage after the break, scoring a converted try and then adding another penalty shortly afterwards, as an 18-3 lead was looking comfortable heading into the last 15 minutes.
But again, the Collegiate pack lifted, led by leader Leo Allan, fellow prop Konradd Newland and lock Logan Kingi.
After sustained pressure, Godfrey made a determined run and forced his way over beside the goal posts, setting up an easy conversion for Lennox.
Collegiate went straight back on attack, getting a penalty 5m from the tryline, which saw Lennox take a quick tap and feed Allan, who was stopped just short, only to see the referee award a penalty try after the desperate NPBHS defenders would not release and roll away.
Now only leading 18-17 with five minutes left, NPBHS responded with a brilliant try, scored from near their own 22m, with Parker again striking timber but getting the kick to go over.
Collegiate never gave up and Namosimalua was rewarded for a good game when he dived over to score in the last minute to close the gap to three points, but his side had run out of time.
Coach Steve Simpson said it had been an excellent game of rugby, both teams scoring three tries, with only kicks being the difference.
"A strong defensive performance from everyone, but a special mention to [flankers] Te Ana Proffit for his best performance in a white jersey and Tom Pease outstanding at the breakdown."
It was the 99th meeting between the schools, with NPBHS extending their record to 79 wins, 17 losses with three draws.
Collegiate will next host Palmerston North Boys High this Saturday, kickoff 12pm.