The Horowhenua Kāpiti Bears cricket team travelled to Napier last weekend to take on a Hawke's Bay side littered with Central Districts experience.
With the majority of Bay players currently in the Central Districts first class set-up or CD talent-identified pool, the local HK players knew the weekend provided an opportunity to showcase skill against the best.
Rain all week had the covers left on for extended periods, which was to provide a freshening of the wicket. At the toss both captains were keen for a bowl on the green seamer. Andre Halbert in his only fail of the weekend called wrong and the Bears were sent into bat.
The in-form Dion Sanson (23) and Matthew Good (74) were the first two face the aggressive Bay bowlers. A 53-run opening partnership had HK off to a positive start .
HK Player-Coach Chad Law (74) settled in to what became a marathon innings of 196 balls, another 50-run partnership with Good had HK 124-2. Chad batted with patience and control with support from K Fahey (38) A Halbert (35) and Ryan McCone to end a positive opening day on 284-7.
On Day Two the Bears tail wanted to push for the elusive 300 which hasn't been achieved by an HK side before. Unfortunately the Bay came out hard closing at 291. This was the second highest first innings total by any HK side vs Hawke's Bay.
Ryan McCone spearheaded the HK attack with Levin Old Boys stalwart Daemon Kennett however neither could break the opening partnership of the Bay at 82-0 after just 13 overs. Fraser Bartholomew returning from injury got the wicket of the hard-hitting Wiggins for 57 then just a few overs later removed the Hawke's Bay skipper J Smith for 32.
The Bay was now 105-2 until a fine spell of bowling from Carter Andrews and Dion Sanson slowed the run rate and removed another two Bay batsmen who were now starting to wobble at 131-4.
Leader Chad Law was now on the side line with a knee injury, so it was time for the newly formed leadership group to assist the skipper.
The decision to bring back McCone straight after lunch was another masterstroke from Halbert as the Stag quick removed fellow first class team mates Noema-Barnett and Schmullian, which included a catch from Liam Pinfold flying through the air for the one-handed grab.
Dion Sanson provided good support to McCone in a bowling partnership that now had the Bay falling short of the follow-on total at 142-7.
Liam Pinfold was thrown the ball in the 41st over and didn't disappoint, striking in his first and second over knocking over the Bay lower order.
Now 164-9 The HK Men continued applying pressure looking for the last wicket, young stag Christian Leopard who suffered a lower back injury bowling, showed courage and some big hitting ability to support Todd Watson see the Bay pass the follow-on target of 191.
Captain Halbert brought back Fraser Bartholomew who broke the final partnership.
With around 55 overs left in the day HK knew that the game was still not secured.
Kelsey Fahey joined Sanson at the crease and both showed grit and determination to get the HK lads to tea without the loss of any more wickets.
Fahey and Sanson went into the final session with confidence and kept the score ticking over until Smith offered out his hand to Sanson in the 22nd over with HK 77-1.
Victory by 1st Innings to the Horowhenua-Kāpiti Men over the Bay was now confirmed. Player Coach Chad Law returned from hospital to witness this moment .
The players now join a small group who have won against the bay. The previous victory was in 1998, 20 years ago.
The HMC HK Senior Men now get a break until they meet Whanganui on January 13 and 14 at the refurbished Donnelly Park in Levin.
The victory against the Bay has HK currently second equal one point behind leaders Manawatū after Round 2 of the Furlong Cup.
To check the scorecard or review some of the recorded action click on the below link.