Friday night's Battle of the Bays was a thrilling spectacle and showed that our Magpies have plenty of courage and determination.
While the defence of both teams was found wanting on many occasions, the attacking rugby at Mclean Park was out of the top drawer.
Make no mistake, the Magpies had to beat Bay of Plenty to get off the bottom of the ITM Cup premiership points table and avoid relegation. At one stage it looked like our boys had it in the bag, but confidence was soon replaced by despondency in the stands. With a minute to go, the Steamers were leading 41-35 and you could see the crowd give up. It was going to be one of those nights when everyone rued what could have been.
But this Magpies team, and Ihaia West in particular, showed that it was not over yet, even though Bay of Plenty had set up camp in the Magpies' half. It just did not seem likely that the Magpies would be able to win this one, but they did and with such style. West's dramatic dive under the posts after the hooter had gone sent the crowd into a frenzy and the Steamers' players to their knees.
For me the player of the match was Gillies Kaka, who scored a hattrick and showed that he would not be out of place in one of the Super Rugby squads.
He is a game breaker who can make something out of nothing.
This match was good for a number of reasons. It showed the character of our team and could also mark the turning point in the season.
It also revealed just how loyal and passionate Hawke's Bay supporters are. There were about 7500 supporters there and apart from the big bloke in the Steamers' jersey down in the front, most were dressed in black and white and shouting for the Magpies. It is heart-warming to see the level of support and hopefully this performance will encourage more people to go to the next match, against Otago at Mclean Park on Saturday.
Hawke's Bay Rugby Union commercial manager Jay Campbell is hoping there will be more "bums on seats" on Saturday.
So, grab a ticket and support our team. It is worth it.