Hawke's Bay senior men's representative team are once again the holders of the symbol of minor association cricket supremacy in New Zealand.
The Pay Excellence-sponsored Bay side thrashed Hawke Cup holders Nelson by 10 wickets at Saxton Oval today to etch their name on the silverware for the 13th time in since the inaugural match in 1910-11.
"Everyone's just taking photos and stuff like that so we'll obviously have a few beers in the changing rooms and go from there, really, because there are no plans," said jubilant captain Jacob Smith, revealing the players will return via Hawke's Bay Regional Airport in Napier in two groups tomorrow.
The cup is yet again another endorsement of a powerful province where the best premier men's club, Innovative Electrical Napier Technical Old Boys CC, hail from as they jet off to defend their national crown in Auckland next month.
The Willem Ludick-captained Nelson, after taking the cup off Southland on a first-innings victory a fortnight ago - for the first time in 22 years - were belligerent today but it was too little, too late.
Having been skittled for 147 yesterday in their first innings, Central Districts Stag Joshua Clarkson, especially, was defiant with 164 runs from 120 balls, including seven boundaries and 11 sixes at No 4, after the opening pair of Zohrab brothers, Thomas (33 runs) and David (81), and CD newbie Ludick (65), at first drop, played like they had nothing to lose.
But it was at best a ritual for exorcising their demons because today belonged to the rampant visitors after they had got their mitts on the cup with a first-innings victory yesterday on the platform of a don't-argue declaration of 524-6 in 124 overs.
Needing 329 runs in their second dig to make the Bay bat again, Nelson eclipsed the target with 28 runs required from the visitors who erupted into wild celebrations. Heretaunga Building Society Cornwall CC openers Bayley Wiggins and Smith were unbeaten on 15 runs each.
Smith said the Dave Castle-coached side simply focused on chipping away at the wickets around a belligerent Clarkson.
"We weren't under any stress at any time so it was good to have that sort of a challenge," said the 27?-year-old Bayley's Real Estate commercial agent.
Smith lauded a solid unit who had shown their potential in the three days.
The Bay will defend the cup against Hamilton at Nelson Park, Napier, in a fortnight but relishing the moment was high on their agenda tonight.
Seamer Ben Stoyanoff took 3-43, including the prized scalp of Clarkson, in the second Bay bowling dig to share the five-wicket match haul with Jayden Lennox although his Tech teammate, Todd Watson, was the pick in the first innings to finish with four wickets.
It is especially rewarding for Smith who first challenged for the cup as a 17-year-old and now has won it twice as a captain in four challenges in his career.
"It's good that I've had that opportunity and be with good teams to have a crack at it four times and to have two successful ones is bloody good stuff."
The Bay first won the bragging rights in the summer of 1946-47 when they took it off Manawatu before losing it to Whanganui the following season. However, they took it back off Hutt Valley in 1949-50 before losing it again to Wairarapa in 1950-51.
The silverware alluded the Bay until 1967-68 when thy won it from Marlborough before handing it over to Waikato the following season.
It wasn't until 1982-83 that the Bay claimed it back from Northland before handing it back to them the following summer.
Nevertheless, the challenge format didn't kick in until the turn of the century with zone 2 champions the Bay held it in 2002-03 but weren't unable to defend it against Northland.
The Bay claimed it in 2008-09 and their last acquisition, before today, was against North Otago when Colin Schaw was the coach in 2015-16. They lost it in their first defence to the Bay of Plenty.
NTOB player Matt Edmondson this weekend became the only Bay senior men batsmen to ever score two double centuries for the province. However, his 242 runs was not enough to eclipse the highest score of an unbeaten 272 from Charlie Kinzett, of Nelson, against Marlborough, in the 1933-34 season.
For the record, the best bowling figures in an innings are 10-35 from Chester Holland, of Whanganui, against South Taranaki in 1922-23, the only time someone claimed 10 wickets in a Hawke Cup match.
Considered to be held in similar echelons to rugby's Ranfurly Shield, the Hawke Cup is played in four zones around the country.
After round-robin matches within each zone, the winners of the three zones earn the right to challenge the cup holders on a rotational basis, after the holders play their zone runners-up first in three-day matches.
The holders host the three-day games. The last team to hold the cup keep it throughout the winter.