Magpies head coach Mark Ozich says the nature of Sunday's victory over upcoming semi finalist opponent Taranaki is 'pleasing' after his side showed how to chase down a lead and grind out victory.
Hawke's Bay Magpies sent a strong message to their semi-final opponents with a come-from-behind victory in the final season game of the 2020 Mitre 10 Cup.
The Magpies came from 18 points down to beat Taranaki 34-33 in Inglewood.
Both teams will now do it all again in a semi-final, but this time the Magpies will have a home-ground advantage against the Bulls, at Napier's McLean Park.
The Magpies had already ensured a first-place finish on the championship ladder before kickoff.
"We weren't accurate enough and weren't direct enough to start with, and you've got to earn that right to go wide and we didn't," Ozich said.
Hawke's Bay fixed that at halftime, and Ozich said they were then able to put Taranaki under pressure and get into the game.
The coach said it was good for the team to demonstrate it can come back from a big deficit:
"To be able to be in touch, to run it down and then to grind it out at the end is pleasing."
Ozich will have his work cut out for him to narrow down the squad and select 23 to play Taranaki again in next week's Championship semi-final.
Coming home to McLean Park would be a big boost.
"The boys love playing at home in Hawke's Bay in front of their family and friends and the home crowd," Ozich said.
"The guys will enjoy that and relish that opportunity."
Magpies first-five Caleb Makene had opened the scoring with a penalty in the fifth minute when the hosts were caught offside.
Taranaki secured the game's first try though, with winger Lewis Ormond crossing the line after sustained attacking pressure.
The 'Naki set up camp in the Magpies' half and extended their lead to eight points by the 22nd minute with a pair of Jayson Potroz penalties.
An intercept high up the field finally gave Hawke's Bay some attacking ball, and they pounced almost immediately with openside flanker Solomone Funaki scoring a try.
But Taranaki replied straight away with a try to outstanding first five Stephen Perofeta.
They continued to hammer away and cracked the Magpies defence once more through lock Kaylum Boshier in the 34th minute.
On the rare occasions the Magpies had first-half possession, they had looked good.
Funaki should have had his second try but the television match official - wrongly in the eyes of many - judged him to have lost the ball in the act of grounding it.
Bulls fullback Potroz slotted another penalty to extend the hosts' lead to 18 at halftime.
Funaki got what should have been his third try a few minutes after the break as Hawke's Bay made a flying start to the second period.
They scored again through lock Tom Parsons after a nice move from an attacking lineout in what was a dominant opening 10 minutes.
Taranaki battled their way back into control though, with flanker Tom Florence going over for their bonus point try off the back of a lineout maul.
That set piece produced for the Magpies at the other end of the field in the 66th minute when they were awarded a penalty try after Taranaki collapsed a lineout drive close to the try line.
And No 8 Devan Flanders busted a tackle and strolled over for a try to give Hawke's Bay the lead with about 10 minutes remaining.
The Magpies managed to hang onto that one-point advantage for their seventh win of the season.
Taranaki 33 (Lewis Ormond, Stephen Perofeta, Kaylum Boshier, Tom Florence tries; Jayson Potroz 2/4 cons, 3/3 pens)
Hawke's Bay 34 (Solomone Funaki 2, Tom Parsons, penalty try, Devan Flanders tries; Caleb Makene 1/1 pen, 2/2 cons, Connor McLeod 0/1 con, 0/1 pen)