Hawkes Bay 29
Hawkes Bay are in the Championship final following an at times ill-tempered victory over Otago in Dunedin, a replay of their successful Ranfurly Shield challenge this season.
The Bay failed to defend the Shield - Counties-Manukau claiming it straight away in Napier - but the Magpies can still take something tangible from this year, though they could be without captain and loose forward Mike Coman, who left the field with a knee injury.
They will meet Tasman in Nelson on Friday for the decider and on this evidence the Makos, who thrashed Southland 49-28 in their semifinal, need not be too worried.
In hot and humid conditions under the roof, both teams made plenty of errors, with Hawkes Bay fullback Zac Guildford at fault for several poor decisions. Otago finally sparked into life with tries to forwards Gareth Evans and Tom Franklin to set up a thrilling final minute.
They had to fight back after losing an early lead. Alby Mathewson's dart from an attacking scrum put the visitors ahead at the break after Matt Faddes showed good skills and pace to pick up the ball one-handed and scoot away for Otago.
Otago lost prop Scott Manson for a shoulder charge on first-five Ihaia West, who had a quiet match, but battled well during his absence and didn't concede a point.
However, Richard Buckman's try with just over 20 minutes left effectively sealed it for the Bay. Trent Boswell-Wakefield, who replaced Coman, showed impressive pace to chase a kick for the assist.
Another West penalty - he kicked five - pushed the score out to 29-10 and the game was as good as theirs, although flanker Evans scored a superb try when running on to a Franklin offload and stepping Guildford, and Franklin got one of his own in the dying minutes.
Otago (Matt Faddes, Gareth Evans, Tom Franklin tries; Hayden Parker pen, 3 cons)
Hawkes Bay (Alby Mathewson, Richard Buckman tries; Ihaia West 5 pens, 2 cons)