Reigning Hawke's Bay rugby Champions Hastings Rugby and Sports have taken a big step towards getting 2021 first-round trophy the Nash Cup in to the cabinet alongside the Maddison Trophy by beating Napier Old Boys Marist 30-26 in the third round of the new club rugby season.
Playing on home ground Elwood Park, with each side unbeaten at the top of the five-team Pool 1, Hastings was down 0-7 early but bounced back to take the lead in the second quarter, lead 22-12 at the turn and stretch the margin to 15 points before OBM stormed back with two converted tries to make a close game of it in the final stages.
In the key Pool 2 game, Taradale maintained their unbeaten record with a 34-17 win over fellow Napier Tech Old Boys.
With two matches to play before the first round final, Hastings and Nash Cup holder Taradale are now in the box-seat to play the May 8 final – a rematch of last year's championship final in which Hastings beat Taradale to claim the Maddison Trophy outright for the first time.
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The class of Hawke's Bay Magpies first five-eighths Lincoln McClutchie was obvious as rejuvenated Hastings side Tamatea scored its second win, 37-22 away to Central on a big day of country club rugby at Central Park, Waipukurau.
All five Central Hawke's Bay clubs had teams on the park during the day, with CHB College appearing on the schedule.
Flaxmere-based MAC also had a second win, beating Napier Pirate 19-14 in Napier, leaving Pirate winless and battling to avoid missing out on a Maddison Trophy competition place, as the bottom team in each pool drops to a new second division in a competition format changed after 16 years without any changes to the teams in the Premier Division.
The same struggle faces former long-time high-flyers Havelock North, who scored three converted tries in the crossover match only to be beaten, without any bonus point. Clive, with the home advantage, maintained the upper hand after leading 17-14 at the break and won 31-21.