The Hawke's Bay Cricket team are on track for their fifth Chapple Cup title in six years this weekend.
The annual men's one-day competition is being hosted over three days in Palmerston North and Levin, with Taranaki, Manawatū, Nelson, Marlborough, Horowhenua-Kāpiti, Whanganui and Wairarapa all pushing to knock Hawke's Bay off their throne.
Hawke's Bay rolled Taranaki by seven wickets in their opening Chapple Cup cricket match in Palmerston North on Friday.
Taranaki batted first and limped their way to a total of 150, losing all 10 of their wickets in just 35 overs.
Opening Hawke's Bay bowlers Liam Dudding and Ben Stoyanoff ripped through the top order in less than nine overs, picking up three and two wickets respectively.
None of Taranaki's top four batsmen posted a total of more than four runs, with two of them getting out for no score.
Hawke's Bay bowler Kieran Noema-Barnett eventually cleaned up the lower order, taking the final four wickets of the innings in a spell of just four overs.
After losing opening batsmen Matt Edmondson (1) and Bayley Wiggins (10) early, Hawke's Bay were able to steady the ship with Bradley Schmulian and Christian Leopard.
Schmulian anchored the chase with an unbeaten 39 runs from 79 deliveries, allowing Leopard to cut loose for a quickfire 76 from 68 before he went out caught.
Dominic Thompson (11 off 20) came in to see the game out, with he and Schmulian getting Hawke's Bay over the line with 21 and a half overs remaining.
Taranaki won the 2018/19 edition of the tournament, which otherwise has been dominated by Hawke's Bay in recent years.
On Thursday, Hawke's Bay coach Dave Castle said his side were in a really good space heading into the tournament, with a lot of the team that won it last year returning.
"It builds on a really good team culture that we've put together," Castle said.
"We've been bolstered a little bit with some Central Districts Stags coming back into the side with [Brad Schmulian, Kieran Noema-Barnett and Christian Leopard being available for us."
He said new captain Angus Schaw has really brought the team together since taking on the role for this season.
"He's got characteristics that are really hard to find in cricketers, he's quite in-your-face and has an aggressive side to his cricket plans," Castle said.
The coach said their bowlers are all fresh, fit and ready too.
"We've got young guys like Joey Field, and experienced bowlers like Ben Stoyanoff and Liam Dudding so we're really confident in our ability, but certainly we don't take any of these teams lightly."
Hawke's Bay progress to the second round of the competition tomorrow against the winner of a match between Manawatū and Wairarapa.
Another win will see them advance to the Chapple Cup final on Sunday.
Hawke's Bay hosted the Chapple Cup for last year's win, but on Thursday Castle said having to travel for this one is something that excites the group rather than a disadvantage.
"It provides a whole different sort of feel when you get to go on an away trip," the coach said.
"They get to go away and really bond as a group which is awesome."