The Hawke's Bay senior men are back on track after posting an outright victory in the penultimate round of the Furlong Cup competition to see who earns the right for a Hawke Cup Challenge, the symbol of minor association cricket supremacy in New Zealand.
The Pay Excellence-sponsored side beat Horowhenua-Kapiti by an innings and 49 runs at Donnelly Park, Levin, on Sunday.
"We'll be up there," said returning first-choice captain Jacob Smith after fellow Central Hawke's Bay batsman Dominic Thompson had been at the helm while Smith nursed a knee injury.
The Dave Castle-coached Bay men were in third place after a first-innings loss to Taranaki in the opening round in October and then rain thwarting an outright win against Whanganui.
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Smith said where they would finish on the standings as CD contenders would depend on other results over the weekend.
The Bay had skittled Horowhenua-Kapiti for 113 runs in their first innings, with No 9 Carter Andrews top-scoring with 45 on Saturday.
They then posted 7-307 and declared after 51 overs, with CD Stags trio Bradley Schmulian (77 runs), Kieran Noema-Barnett (49) and Christian Leopard (47) providing the platform.
Horowhenua-Kapiti managed 145 runs in their second dig, Carter Andrews consistently top-scoring with 30 and 45 runs at No 8 and No 9 respectively in each innings, his batting specialist teammates seeming to have left their willows at home.
The Stags pair of spinner Jayden Lennox (4-24, 3-33) and seamer Ben Stoyanoff (2-26,
5-37) were the chief destroyers with the ball, while Schmulian backed up well with 2-10 and 1-24 respectively from his tweakers.
For Horowhenua-Kapiti, new-ball merchant Fraser Bartholomew took 5-91 to be the most effective and economical for the hosts.
Xitij Sakhalkar backed up with 1-25 but their seven-pronged bowling attack struggled to contain the rampant Bay batsmen.