Treadwell Gordon Wanganui's Simon Badger played a captain's knock by surviving nearly an hour and a half against a determined Hawke's Bay spin attack to secure the draw in the Furlong Cup match on Sunday evening.
Forced to follow on in the rain-effected game after being bowled out for 205 chasing 362-7 declared, Wanganui had a disasterous start to their afternoon salvage job when the top order was taken out by pace bowler Ben Stoyanoff to be 10-3.
Hawke's Bay then brought on their deep roster of spin bowlers, led by GC Pretorius (3-34), although they ultimately gave no less than nine players at least a couple of overs on the now-slow wicket.
With the goal now survival instead of scoring, as it was unsuccessfully against Horowhenua Kapiti in the dying overs in December, the middle order of Greg Smith (15), Mark Fraser (18) and Matt Simes (14) were able to tick off a couple of hours before Pretorius had them.
At 62-6 with injured opener Dominic Rayner not batting unless absolutely necessary, it was all on Badger's shoulders and he safely negotiated 83 deliveries over 85 minutes to be undefeated on 22 at stumps.
John McIlraith (20) was with him for 35 minutes of that, while Chris Stewart (10 not out), who bats top order at club level, dug in for the rest – sparing Rayner from any painful match-saver with just him and Nick Harding left in the marquee.
"They rotated their bowlers, the leg spinner Pretorius bowled the most, having the most success," Badger said of the pressure.
"We showed positives there, in that we were able to stick it out."
While Wanganui avoided an outright defeat to Furlong Cup's powerhouse Hawke's Bay, the first in several seasons, ultimately they were saved by the time lost for the overnight rain, which saw the covers come on at the dinner break on Saturday and a further hour delay on Sunday morning.
Getting first innings points, Hawke's Bay picked the conditions by bringing four spin bowlers with them, given youngster Jayden Lennox was their choice for a last-minute injury replacement, and going right at Wanganui's achilles heel.
While knowing they were overmatched, Badger was dissappointed as a little more concentration to get one more wicket and a few more runs over the first two innings would have got them another precious bonus point.
But the depleted pace attack could not pin Hawke's Bay down, with James Field (92) and Dean Foxcroft (90) getting the big partnership, while in Wanganui's first innings there were seven batsmen with solid starts but no-one cracking on.
"Mark Fraser got a good ball, and I think I got a good ball as well," said Badger.
"Then people throwing their wickets away as well. But that was on both sides.
"They have really good spinners in their team on a wicket that was conducive to spin.
"Whanganui in January is going to be a spinners wicket, and unfortunately we just don't have the players to pick."
Coach Warren Marr and pace bowler Connor O'Leary will return from Collegiate's tour of the West Indies, but Wanganui will need another rethink heading into their last game against Wairarapa in Masterton on January 27.
Rayner's calf injury means he's gone for the season, while Ross Kinnerley also picked up an injury and Badger himself will not be available.
Wanganui will need an outright win against their fellow minnow to salvage their season to try and finish a credible fourth place.
In the other Furlong Cup fixtures, Manawatu sprung a surprise by comfortably securing first innings points against Taranaki in another rain-effected game in Palmerston North, while Horowhenua-Kapiti had done to them what they did to Wanganui – losing outright by six wickets to Wairarapa despite having secured first innings points.
Hawkes Bay 1st Innings
J Field ct M Simes b S Badger 92
J Smith b N Harding 48
BD Schmulian ct J McIlraith b R Kinnerley 1
D Foxcroft ct M Simes b R Kinnerley 90
M Edmondson ct M Simes b M Fraser 39
G Tryon b M Fraser 0
A Schaw ct & b N Harding 34
G Pretorius not out 46
L Wright not out 1
Total: 362-7 (73 overs).
Bowling: R Kinnerley 17 overs, 1 maiden, 92 runs, 2 wickets; S Badger 14-2-65-1; T Hemi 6-0-31-0; N Harding 9-1-51-2; D Rayner 12-2-52-0;
C Stewart 3-0-13-0; B Smith 6-0-41-0; M Fraser 6-1-12-2.
Wanganui 1st Innings
D Rayner retired hurt 7
B Smith ct A Schaw b G Pretorius 34
T Walshe b L Wright 3
G Smith ct J Lennox b A Schaw 21
M Fraser b J Lennox 27
N Harding ct A Schaw b J Lennox 23
S Badger ct L Wright b J Lennox 25
M Simes ct A Schaw b B Stoyanoff 8
J McIlraith lbw b G Pretorius 29
C Stewart lbw b G Pretorius 0
R Kinnerley not out 21
Total: 205-9 (62.3 overs).
L Rukuwai 6-2-26-0; B Stoyanoff 12.3-1-43-1; L Wright 4-1151; G Pretorius 16-5-54-3; A Schaw 15-5-41-1; J Lennox 8-1-22-3; B Schmulian 1-0-1-0.
Wanganui 2nd Innings
R Kinnerley lbw b B Stoyanoff 0
B Smith b B Stoyanoff 0
T Walshe b B Stoyanoff 6
G Smith ct B Schmulian b G Pretorius 15
M Fraser lbw b G Pretorius 18
M Simes ct J Lennox b G Pretorius 14
S Badger not out 22
J McIlraith ct J Smith b L Wright 20
C Stewart not out 10
Total: 118-7 (46 overs).
Bowling: B Stoyanoff 4-2-10-3; L Rukuwai 7-2-18-0; A Schaw 4-1-11-0; G Pretorius 13-2-34-3 J Lennox 3-0-9-0; B Schmulian 7-5-9-0; G Tryon 2-0-11-0; L Wright 5-2-7-1; J Smith 1-0-1-0.
Result: Hawkes Bay win first innings points.