Napier Technical Old Boys CC are the premier men's club cricket flag fliers from Hawke's Bay again this summer.
The Big Barrel-sponsored team beat Bayleys Real Estate Havelock North CC by 44 runs at Nelson Park, Napier, in the Property Brokers competition last Sunday.
"It's two years now that we've got that far," said NTOB coach Dale Smidt. "We didn't get past the semifinals last [season] when we got bundled out in Palmy."
Smidt was hopeful the Texans would make it all the way to Auckland this summer to play the other five top premier club sides from the other major association regions.
NTOB play Wairarapa qualifiers Red Star CC in their next qualifying match within the Central Districts region next month.
If they prevail then they will face a sudden-death knockout tourney in Palmerston North to decide who will be the CD representatives.
Last Sunday, NTOB amassed 224 on the platform of opener Matt Edmondson's 118 runs before they were skittled but in reply the villagers could only manage 180 all out in 46 overs.
Smidt said the turning point was when veteran Jeremy Kuru had CD batsman Brad Schmulian feathering a ball to wicketkeeper Edmondson for 46 runs and the other dangerman, Graeme Tryon, was run out for 68 runs.
"I told the boys in the changing room we'd have a 50-50 [chance] of winning," Smidt said, alluding to the absence of Christian Leopard with the Stags, Tom Watson away with the NZ U19 World Cup squad and veteran Stevie Smidt holidaying in England.
"Schmulian and Tryon are very good players but we got the job done so that's great."
Kuru, who plays for the seniors because he doesn't knock off work until after midday on Saturday, was a godsend on Sunday.
"He took a big wicket but Matty Edmondson also got a big hundy so that was the key."
Smidt said they knew nothing about Red Star but was mindful they had three Wairarapa reps.
On the flip side, Stevie Smidt would return but Watson would not and Leopard would be a maybe.