It will be form versus history as Hastings Rugby and Sports and Napier club Taradale battle for the Nash Cup in the Hawke's Bay Premier rugby first-round final on Saturday
And it is form that makes Hastings R&S the favourite, despite having never won the cup and being up against a cup-holder with a history of 12 wins from 1978 to when the Nash Cup was last contested in 2019.
Hastings R&S, formed from a 1996 merger of the former Hastings HSOB and Celtic-Hastings clubs (the latter having also been a merger) are going for a fifth win in a row against Taradale since the Maroons won a Maddison Trophy championship round-robin match 56-31 two years ago.
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A few weeks later Hastings R&S beat Taradale 23-17 in a Maddison Trophy semifinal, last year Hastings won a round-robin match 35-10 and claimed the trophy outright for the first time with a 22-16 win in the final at McLean Park, and it was 25-15 to Hastings R&S when the two teams met in a Nash Cup pools crossover match at Taradale a fortnight ago.
Hastings R&S, who have the home advantage with a 3pm start at Elwood Park, Hastings, as a result of the April 24 win, are now on a Hastings R&S Premier record of 14 wins in a row, including beating all nine other Premier clubs, since their last loss, by a single point, to Napier OBM in the early rounds of the Maddison Trophy last year. It includes beating all nine other Premier clubs .
In Napier, the Napier OBM Reserve team will be looking to maintain the club's dominance of the next level in a Jack Santo Cup final against determined and revenge-seeking division 2 side and Premier aspirant Maraenui.
OBM beat Maraenui 29-26 in a reserve and division 2 combined grades semi-final last year and then won the final, and each side has won all five games in town pools play this season in a town and country competition at the start of a new format for the top senior grades.
With the better points position, Maraenui have been awarded the home advantage for the match at Maraenui Park, starting at 1.15pm. But in their 40th-anniversary season, Maraenui remain without the use of theirs clubrooms, which are nearing the end of a half-million-dollar repair job stemming from the devastation of the Napier flood six months ago.
A Central and Southern Hawke's Bay derby will take place in the country pool final in which Aotea have home-ground advantage playing Otane at Rugby Park, Dannevirke, starting at 2.45pm.
The Maddison Trophy and the teams' other second-round championships start on May 15.