Camden Haven High School booted two of the last three goals of the match, but it wasn't enough to prevent them from being eliminated from the under-15 Swan Shield in Port Macquarie on Tuesday (August 2).
They were outclassed 14.7 (91) to 3.2 (20) by a well-drilled Hunter Sports High School from Lake Macquarie which saw them knocked out of the state-wide school tournament at the round-of-16 stage.
Camden Haven co-coach Tom Rogers remained upbeat following the defeat and was satisfied his team kept fighting right until the full-time siren.
"It's a big positive that they didn't give up and played the whole game right to the end, even though it looked like it got away from us," he said.
"They didn't give up and they kept going."
It is the furthest the Hastings school has progressed in the state-wide tournament.
"When I first got to the school a couple of years ago we didn't really have a team and (co-coach) Brent (Wilkinson) has done really well to build the team and the culture in the school," Rogers said.
"We're building on it each year."
Rogers said only a handful of his players had AFL experience before their campaign started this year.
"The boys did pretty well considering the majority of them had never played AFL before this year and they got out there and had a go," he said.
"Hunter Sports had some really good players and they're a quality team, so the boys can hold their head up high."
Hunter Sports coach Mark DiNardo conceded his team was intimidated by the three-and-a-half hour bus trip up the Pacific Highway, but he was proud of the effort.
They led by 26 points at half-time and went on with the job in the second half.
"It's a long way for us to travel, but so happy with the win and the boys just played out of their skins really. Super proud," he said.
The opposition coach was also full of praise for Camden Haven and admitted the final scoreline did surprise him.
"I thought it'd be a lot closer and maybe we got a couple of little lucky breaks, but we'll take it," he said.
"They were great and have some great players including Reeve Simmonds who used to play with us last year.
"They have done really well to progress through to this stage and should be proud of their efforts."
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