Few Hawke's Bay sports teams can claim to have won a national title at their first attempt.
The Hawke's Bay Heat American flag football team joined that elite group when they won their five-team national invitational tournament at Sinclair Park in Wellington at the weekend. Despite only being a new club formed in June last year, Hawke's Bay Heat, won the open grade title with a 39-31 win against the Nelson HoneyBadgers in the final.
Heat centre Murray Orr described the final as "an epic game" which saw the Heat's defensive group hold the HoneyBadgers scoreless in the first drive. Points flowed from then on for both teams and Hawke's Bay had a one-point lead at halftime.
In the second half Hawke's Bay were more clinical on offence and defence, stretched the lead and held on for the win.
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The Hawke's Bay team, which was captained by quarterback Jordan Cox, opened their campaign with a 32-29 loss to the Tamaki Hornets of Auckland on Saturday. In their second outing the Heat beat the Turangi Titans 45-19.
The Titans gave spectators a lesson in Ironman mentality trotting out five players, one less than the six allowed. In their final match on Saturday took on the defending champions, Nelson HoneyBadgers, for the first time and lost 39-38.
As the score suggests the match was an offensive onslaught with every drive ending in a touchdown. In their semifinal on Sunday the Heat gained revenge for the previous day's loss with a 32-25 win against the Tamaki Hornets.
Two of the Heat players, Havelock North premier club rugby player and former Hawke's Bay under-20s utility back Adam Blake and fellow Karamu High School product Reuben Hinton, a 2010 Hastings West Wakely Shield rugby rep, were both selected in the tournament team.
Hinton and Blake and fellow receiver Joel Cox were joined by Orr and captain Cox in the Heat's offensive contingent. The defensive team was captained by Jason Muir and included Chris Treacher, Chris Jablonski, Cameron Orr, Harvey Godwin and Adam Russell.
Orr said the Heat will host a tournament in Hawke's Bay at Labour Weekend and before then will play in Auckland in June.