Twenty four hours after his Napier Old Boys Marist clubmate Brad Weber was named in the All Blacks squad Zac Donaldson staked a claim for Weber's Magpies berth tonight.
Donaldson made the most of his 63 minutes for the Hawke's Bay XV in their 31-25 victory against the Manawatu XV at Napier's McLean Park with a try, several devastating breaks and some tidy defensive work around the fringes.
"I'm still playing for a Magpies Mitre 10 Cup contract. Depending on what happens to Brad there could be an opening for me. I'll have to see what Mark [Magpies head coach Ozich] says when we have our review in the next couple of days," Donaldson said.
"That was my first night game on McLean Park and there are still a lot of work ons for me. I have to keep my talk up even when I'm tired and I have to improve my box kicking in slippery conditions," he added.
The hosts opened the scoring with a try to hooker Jacob Devery after an impressive drive from the forward pack in the eighth minute. First five-eighth Lincoln McClutchie slotted the conversion.
Hawke's Bay's scrum functioned well during the first half. Against the run of play Manawatu scored their first try in the 23rd minute to flanker Nick Crosswell after their first period of sustained pressure. First five-eighth Ben Wyness added the extras.
Hawke's Bay replied five minutes later when busy openside flanker Iakopo Mapu scored following several busts of the Manawatu defensive line by the Bay forwards. McClutchie was again on target with the conversion.
Hawke's Bay bombed a try in the 36th minute and the slippery ball in the difficult conditions could have been a factor in the close range attempt. Another one was bombed three minutes later when the backs couldn't hold on to the ball and the hosts led 14-7 at halftime.
Hawke's Bay halfback Zac Donaldson made several valuable bursts in the first half. McClutchie also proved to be a handful for the Manawatu defence but was guilty of missing a couple of kicks for touch.
Manawatu scored first in the second half courtesty of a try to winger Shai Wiperi after some clever support play in the 47th minute.
Unlucky not to have scored on a couple of occasions in the first half Donaldson made certain he scored in the 52nd minute with a solo dab from a five metre scrum. McClutchie maintained his 100 per cent success rate with the conversion.
Three minutes later substitute winger Michael Buckley used his tremendous pace to dive over after some clever buildup work after Manawatu's handling wasn't up to scratch.
However Manawatu stayed in the hunt with a 60th minute try to Dannevirke-raised flanker Johnny Galloway which Taradale age group product and substitute pivot Stewart Cruden converted to have the visitors trailing 26-19.
Winger Adam Boult scored in the 67th minute after a good break from halfback Griffin Culver. Cruden converted from out wide.
With two minutes remaining substitute midfielder Tyrone Dodd-Edwards secured the win for Hawke's Bay with a try from a set move at scrum time.
Hawke's Bay XV 31 (Jacob Devery, Iakopo Mapu, Zac Donaldson, Michael Buckley, Tyrone Dodd-Edwards tries; Lincoln McClutchie 3 cons), Manawatu XV 26 (Nick Crosswell, Shai Wiperi, Johnny Galloway, Adam Boult tries; Ben Wyness, Stewart Cruden 2 cons). HT: 14-7.