Hawke's Bay's premier men's cricket team will hold the historic Hawke Cup till next summer if they can fend off Bay of Plenty at Nelson Park in Napier in the last challenge match of the season, starting next week.
Hawke's Bay wrested the cup from North Otago in a A fast-paced, action-packedchallnage on the weekend. Fortfied with first-class players on their first ever trip to Oamaru, Hawke's Bay confidently took on North Otago - the second smallest Hawke Cup region in the country - yet was left needing an outright win to take the Cup from the defenders after North Otago had bowled them out for just 122.
North Otago then took a three-run first innings lead, plus a couple of quick second innings wickets for good measure, to head into the second day in a promising psotition to their first defence since taking the Cup off Buller.
But Hawke's Bay came out with a vengeance on Satriday, peppering the pickets with boundaries in front of a strong, noisy and staunch North Otago turnout at Oamaru's Milner Park.
The challengers fared much better in their second dig, piling on 248 runs for more than two sessions, captain Jacob Smith top-scoring with 79 before he was bowled by his opposing captain.
They had set North Otago a stiff chase of 246 to hold onto their precious silverware, and it proved more than enough as Hawke's Bay's bowling attack scythed through their hosts to dismiss them for 93 in just 42 overs, claiming the Cup with a 152-run outright win, and with a day to spare.
North Otago succinctly tweeted their reaction, which was [sic]: "Bugga."
New holders Hawke's Bay will now face a stern challenge from the Zone 1 winner and recent Hawke Cup rulers, Bay of Plenty, on March 11.