Furlong Cup holders Hawke's Bay were beaten on the first innings by Taranaki in their first Central Districts two-day cricket competition clash of the season in Napier at the weekend.
"It's not the start we wanted as it's always tough trying to chase a game. We were outplayed in the first innings. But there are plenty of good signs as we look ahead to the remainder of the season," Pay Excellence Hawke's Bay coach Dave Castle said after the Nelson Park encounter.
"We've got a strong squad which means there will be plenty of competition for berths so we should be right moving forward."
Batting first in the first innings Hawke's Bay were all out for 110. Castle said the only highlight for the Bay was former New Zealand under-19 representative Christian Leopard's 42-run haul.
Napier Technical all rounder Leopard returned to Hawke's Bay duty after playing for the New Zealand T20 Selection against England the previous weekend. In reply Taranaki were all out for 150.
Former Australia under-19 right arm leg spinner Kyle Gardiner, who is playing for the Central Hawke's Bay club this year, celebrated his Hawke's Bay debut with 6-66 off 19 overs. Hawke's Bay captain Jayden Lennox took 3-18 off 19.5 overs.
Hawke's Bay scored 234/7 declared during their second innings. Napier Technical's Todd Watson was 84 not out and Havelock North's William Clark, who won the top male cricketer award at the Hawke's Bay Secondary Schools Sports Awards function last month, contributed a valuable 31 runs.
Castle said Clark and Watson functioned well and produced a partnership of just under 100 runs.
Chasing 204 for the outright win, Taranaki were 64/7 when play ended. Taradale fast bowler Ben Stoyanoff took 5-6 off 11 overs in what Castle described as "an unbelievable effort."
Stoyanoff's clubmate Luke Kenworthy was a late withdrawal from the Bay team after collecting a quad strain while scoring a century in club play on Friday night.
He was replaced by Napier Technical's former Black Cap Jesse Ryder who made his first appearance for Hawke's Bay in 19 years.
"While Jesse didn't score as many runs as he would have liked [six in the first innings and 10 in the second] he was definitely valuable to the group," Castle added.
■ The Indigo Napier Hawke's Bay women's cricket team beat Taranaki by 205 runs in their first MJF Shrimpton Trophy fixture of the season in Whanganui on Sunday. Four consecutive wickets from White Fern Rosemary Mair was the highlight of the clash.