The Hawke Cup arrives at Napier tomorrow night after the Hawke's Bay senior men's representative cricket team had a successful challenge in Oamaru on Saturday.
The Pay Excellence-sponsored side beat previous holders North Otago outright by 152 runs and a day to spare, after a wobbly day one last Friday on a temperamental wicket at Milner Park.
The Colin Schaw-coached team will not arrive in Napier via Christchurch until 7pm tomorrow night.
The bragging rights for minor association supremacy, dating back to 1910, returns to the Bay after a drought going back to the 2008-09 season when they beat Hamilton before successfully defending it against Northland and Canterbury Country. The Bay lost it to Manawatu the following summer.
At the weekend, the cup match was heading for an OK Corral-type shootout.
"It was obviously a green seamer first thing on Friday morning ... but by the afternoon it had started to flatten out," Schaw said today, mindful the hosts had had a three-run first-innings lead on the first day.
However, the visitors had to sleep on 2-13 in their second dig aware they would have to overcome the conditions to dig their toes into the batting crease.
Bay captain Jacob Smith did, leading by example with 79 runs as an opener, forging a partnership with No 4 Rupert Young (20 runs from 53 balls).
Smith carved up 14 boundaries and a six in his knock.
"We were confident that if we got 200 or better it would put the pressure back on North Otago," Schaw said as the Bay posted 248 runs to set a target of 246 for the second smallest minor association team in the country to win.
No 5 Indika Senarathne was offered a licence to play freely and he did with aplomb, scoring a quick-fire 36 from 25 balls, including six boundaries and a six.
Schaw said the nature of the pitch was such that when a wicket tumbled a cluster of three followed but then No 9 GC Pretorius came to the rescue with 59 from 84 balls, including 11 fours and a six.
No 11 Liam Dudding joined the party with a cameo 18 runs, including a six to boost the total to ensure the team target of batting through 2.5 sessions at least was achieved.
"It was the best 18 I've ever seen. Dudds and GC helped set the target for us that day."
With the wicket starting to crumble and turn, the bay's three spinners came to the fore.
Angus Schaw took 4-20, Ajaz Patel took 3-21 and Pretorius chimed in with 2-15 in a stellar cup campaign.
Taking tweakers and only two specialist tweakers was risky but Schaw said they had done that all summer with dividends.
"I know past coaches have been questioning my selections but we've prove to everyone that our plan has come through and the balance of the team is pretty right," he said as the hosts, chasing their first successful defence in history in two wins, crumbled for 93 runs in 42 overs.
North Otago right-arm speed merchant Francois Mostert bowled well for his eight scalps in the two innings.
Fellow South African Pretorius, representing the Bay, also claimed eight wickets.
The Bay now host zone one winners Bay of Plenty, from March 11-13 at Nelson Park, Napier, in their first defence this summer.
A feeder union to the Northern Districts Knights, BOP last etched their name on the Hawke Cup from January 2013 to February 2014.
"They will be one of the hardest challenges out of ND," Schaw said.