Defending champions Kelston Boys High and perennial powerhouse St Paul's College both passed early tests on opening day of the NZRL Secondary Schools National Tournament at Bruce Pulman Park, Papakura.
But Kelston had to rally from far behind early to prevail 26-18, as rivals Manurewa scored the first three tries of their first-up encounter.
St Paul's had a slightly easier time of it against Mt Albert Grammar, emerging 16-4 victors to avenge their defeat in last year's semifinals.
With the premiership and development grades both reconfigured to 12-team draws, the top four teams collided early in crossover fixtures that may hold clues to games at the business end of the event.
Otahuhu College issued their challenge for a semi spot, with Vincent Tofilau crossing for three tries in a 48-8 win over Papakura High.
Rotorua Boys High, who won the development grade last year, stepped up to the top level, coming back from eight points down at halftime to defeat Western Springs College 28-20.
Southern Cross Campus and Aorere College were the other premier winners, while South Island travellers Aranui High and Greymouth High were rewarded for their journey with opening wins in the development grade.
Rugby union powerhouse Wesley College hinted they would be a force to contend in the 13-a-side code, with a big 68-6 result over Taita College.
NZRL SECONDARY SCHOOLS NATIONAL TOURNAMENT
Bruce Pulman Park, Papakura
Monday, September 1
Kelston BHS 26 Manurewa HS 18
Otahuhu College 48 (Vincent Tofilau 3, Koli Oneone, Carl Ohuafi, Ulumago Fatu, Raymond Taumalolo, Brandon Nangaiti & Richard Mikau tries; Tofilau 2, Koniti Vetemotu 2 & Nikau 2 goals) Papakura HS 8 (Tutaki Brown & Jordan Morrison tries); HT: 16-8
Rotorua BHS 28 (Latu Vaeno 3, Jaz Flavell & Viliami Tosi tries; Nerehana Tarei 4 goals) Western Springs College 20 (Jamie Dennis, Malrick Lavea, Ramo Solomona & Ahotau Kali tries; Nikora Ngaro 2 goals): HT: 6-14
Southern Cross Campus 22 (Viliami Ma'amaloa 2, Fuiva Takitaki, Jan Sepuloni & Peni Mafileo tries; Sila Ulugia goal) Westlake BHS 0; HT: 4-0
St Paul's College 16 (Finau Payne, Sam Filimoetatu & Beau Cordtz tries; Cody Mahuika & Gerar Vili goals) Mt Albert Grammar 4 (John Talisa try); HT: 4-4
Aorere College 8 (Tyler Mohi 2 tries) Tokoroa HS 4 (Cleveland Poko try); HT: 8-0
Aranui HS 24 (Jinho Mun 2, Luke Holland, Sea Muamalale & Fa'aaliga tries; Mun 2 goals) Whangarei BHS 16 (Shane Paraha, Caleb Aekins, Manaaki Tawhiwhirangi & Journee Cassidy tries); HT: 10-10
Greymouth HS 18 (Riley Coleman, Jordan Campbell, William Coghlan & Josh Bell tries; Arthur Southeron goal) Rosehill College 14 (Sione Ahokovi, Darryl Hemepo & Edge Tuaineti-Watson tries; Nathan Linford goal); HT: 8-10
Pakuranga College 18 (Jesse Keven, Gerald van Wyk & Luke Armiger tries; Keven 3 goals) Northcote College 10 (Warati Matenga & Sion Talilotu tries; Adam Roberts goal); HT: 12-6
Francis Douglas College 22 (Caleb Wheatley, Josh Perrett, Henry Miles & Bryn Chard tries; Eli Kneepkens 3 goals) One Tree Hill College 12 (Wallave Teaurima & Pimi Lavlavu tries; Michael Joe 2 goals); HT: 18-0
Wesley College 68 (Esera Brown 2, Ma Latai 2, Aria Cerei 2, Sam Aki 2, Isaac Underwood, Falani Lovo, Xavier Johansson, Royston Tu'uta tries; Cerei 9 & Tui Tauaaika goals) Taita College 6 (Aaron Maxwell try; Ryan Pene-Stevens goal); HT: 34-6
Papatoetoe HS 22 (Iese Aiga 2, Kelep Holi & Nuku Ngere tries; Foga Autagavaia 3 goals) Mt Roskill Grammar 12 (Otu Maka Mausia, John Taito & Ken Fa'aoso tries); HT: 0-12