They won't feature in any finals this year, but before they disappear into the ranks of also-rans, spare some sympathy for plucky Manurewa High.
No side has faced a tougher schedule at this week's NZRL National Secondary Schools Tournament.
Over the course of four days, the South Aucklanders have faced both the top two seeds and eventual finalists, falling desperately short of upsetting both.
Three early tries in their opener had titleholders Kelston Boys High eight points down at the break, before slipping through for a hard-fought 26-16 win.
Then, in yesterday's semi-finals, 15-time champions St Paul's College saw their 20-4 halftime advantage slip away and needed a penalty goal from Beau Cordtz in extra time to emerge 22-20 victors. Frankly, Manurewa's effort deserved better.
"The boys are not too good at all, right now," admitted coach Wayne Bailey. "They're being very hard on themselves.
"You're dealing with boys who haven't got much and grow up in a tough area, but I'm proud of how they have developed throughout the season.
"For me, it hasn't been so much about building football players, but more about building young men. From the boys they were at the start of the season, lacking responsibility in a lot of ways, I've seen a huge change in their characters and the football has flowed on from there."
While they won't get to raise any team trophies, Manurewa's contribution to the event was acknowledged when captain Erin Clark took out Vodafone Warriors Player of the Tournament honours at tonight's awards function.
While Kelston and St Paul's will clash in a premiership final that most were predicting at the start of the week, Manurewa must now regroup for the third-place playoff against Aorere.
Auckland schools are assured of the top six placings at this year's event - Waikato's Tokoroa High face Bay of Plenty's Rotorua Boys High for seventh/eighth.
NZRL NATIONAL SECONDARY SCHOOLS TOURNAMENT
Bruce Pulman Park
It's Not OK Best & Fairest
Development - Cyrus Timo-Latu (Aranui HS)
Premiership - Phoenix Hunt (Otahuhu Coll)
Overall - Isaiah Cooper-Tetevano (Tokoroa HS)
Got a Trade? Got it Made! Team Fairplay
Development - Tony Cuccurrullo
Premiership - Kiko Puhipi-Hibbs
Timothy Moreton (Greymouth HS)
Billy Maea (Tokoroa HS)
Te Iwi Ngaro Waru (Aranui HS)
Best Cultural Salute
More Than Just A Game Award
Vodafone Warriors Player of the Tournament
Erin Clark (Manurewa HS)
Friday, September 5
Field 1 Aorere College v Manurewa HS (3rd/4th)
Field 2 Tokoroa HS v Rotorua BHS (7th/8th)
Field 3 Papakura HS v Western Springs College
Field 5 Mt Albert Grammar v Westlake BHS (9th/10th)
Field 4 Otahuhu College v Southern Cross Campus (5th/6th)
Field 1 Kelston BHS v St Paul's College (FINAL)
Field 3 Whangarei BHS v Greymouth HS (19th/20th)
Field 5 Taita College v Rosehill College (23rd/24th)
Field 6 Pakuranga College v One Tree Hill College (21st/22nd)
Field 2 Mt Roskill Grammar v Francis Douglas College (17th/18th)
Field 1 Wesley College v Papatoetoe HS (PLATE FINAL)