Hawke's Bay senior men's representative cricketers came away with a first-innings victory in Napier but one can argue they deserved an outright result today.
That's because the Pay Excellence-sponsored Bay had done everything in their power to make a game of the round three, two-day Furlong Cup affair against Manawatū at Nelson Park.
"It was obviously nice to get the first-innings win so that's the sort of goal you have in a game like this," said captain Dominic Thompson, after having won the toss and skittling Manawatū for 252 runs in 79.2 overs.
Thompson then lauded his batsmen for the way they went about smartly eclipsing the visitors' total on Saturday before carrying today to establish a 147-run lead on account of 7-399 declared not long after lunch in 80 overs.
"We made a couple of inroads but they batted well and we just couldn't pick up the six more wickets we needed," said the Ruahine Motors Central Hawke's Bay cricketer.
Ironically only one batsman, former Black Caps fast bowler Adam Milne, showed any resistance with 89 runs from 100 balls, including 14 boundaries and two sixes, before Kieran Noema-Barnett had trapped him leg before wicket.
Coming in at No 6, Milne then dug his toes in the second dig with 38 not out, in tandem with unbeaten No 5 Floyd na Nagara (42 runs), to ensure the Jacob Oram-coached side weren't skittled twice.
The 27-year-old Central Districts cricketer, who has had a stop-start career with niggly injuries, last played for New Zealand this time last year in a Twenty20 against Pakistan.
Manawatū were 4-149 in 52 overs when the two sides shook hands.
"It was good that he [Milne] wasn't bowling," Thompson said with a chuckle. "He's still a first-class player and he had shown it in both the innings by pushing it to 250 in the first innings."
Decision to bowl does justice to fresh Taradale wicket
He said Milne had given a snapshot of his overall cricketing nous when he batted more conservatively in the second innings to deny the Bay more points.
Innovate Electrical Napier Technical Old Boys tweaker Jayden Lennox took 4-32 from 19 overs, including 10 maidens, to be the most frugal after his skipper chucked him the ball to chug into a stiff wind to enable the seamers to find some rhythm with the northerlies.
"Jayden had restricted the batsmen and then picked up wickets that way," he said of Lennox after engaging eight in the bowling shift.
You Travel veteran Luke Wright took 3-31 with his medium pacers while Noema-Barnett backed up 2-28, including Milnes' prized scalp in the first innings.
"He's very valuable and a guy you want to have in your team because he's forever a competitor, showing it by taking the first two wickets in the first innings for us," Thompson said, adding Wright had gone on to claim the seventh and eighth scalps as well.
Thompson said the Bay bowlers had toiled on a flat wicket to make the most of whatever chances they had created.
CD representative Bradley Schmulian, at first drop, top scored with 111 runs from 165 deliveries in the run chase for the Bay after opening batsman Bayley Wiggins had laid the platform with 98 from 140 balls.
It's the second time Heretaunga Building Society Cornwall player Wiggins had come agonisingly shy of a ton in this cup campaign.
"Obviously it's disappointing for him not to reach personal milestone but his contribution to the team is really good," Thompson said of Wiggins' jitters in the 90s but emphasised the importance of the fringe Stags cricketer's 13 boundaries.
"Brad also batted well and it's awesome to watch him bat when he's in form," he said of Reynard Health Supplies Havelock North premier club cricketer Schmulian who is earmarked for the Stags' four-day Plunket Shield campaign.
Noema-Barnett also missed out on century by nine runs from his 85-ball knock that included 13 fours and three lusty sixes at No 5.
Jack Harris, at first change, took 3-98 from 19 overs to be the pick of Manawatū bowling attack.
"Kieran came in and did the same thing [set the foundation] for us, picking it up after lunch so it was good to watch some strength hitting from him," Thompson said.
The Dave Castle-coached Bay, he said, were in a happy place having accomplished their mission, knowing anything above first-innings would have been a bonus.
"We got the bowling points, the batting points and first innings, too," he said. "You can only control your game and play each team as they come up against you."
The Bay will hit the road after Christmas to play Horowhenua-Kapiti in Levin and Wairarapa in Masterton to see who earns the right to challenge for the Hawke Cup — the symbol of minor association supremacy — this summer.
The provincial side, flying the CD flag, won the Hawke Cup last summer but lost it in their first defence to Hamilton.