More than a little Trafalgar Park magic will be needed if Nelson Bays are to turn their second division triumph into a ticket to the first division.

Hawkes Bay's three-year reign as second division kings ended with a hard-fought 19-14 loss in Nelson on Saturday, repeating the hosts' achievement of 1999.

That year they applied to the New Zealand Rugby Union to be allowed entry to the first division but were denied.

This time they get a legitimate shot at the big time, in a playoff against Northland.


Recent history shows they will be up against it, no more so than last year's equivalent match when Hawkes Bay were thumped 66-12 by Northland in Napier - emphasising the gulf between the two divisions.

Nelson Bays coach Wayne Love did not want to talk details of the Northland clash after exhausting himself in preparation for Hawkes Bay.

But he called a meeting yesterday in the first step to focus his players again following a night of celebrations.

"It's going to be difficult for them to get their feet back down but they're realistic as well," he said.

"Last night was about celebrating. You have to do that in a certain way and today's a new day and away we go again."

Love and his players were as one in thanking a raucous home crowd at Trafalgar Park for carrying them to victory.

Down 6-7 at halftime, they were superior throughout much of the second half and would have felt hard done by if Hawkes Bay had snatched victory with their final wave of pressure in the dying minutes.

"I didn't get too worked up about it at the end there," Love said.


"But I did tell the referee afterwards he should have blown the whistle earlier."

The crowd appeared to lift the home side in the frantic final stages as it did when Nelson Bays won the recent round-robin match between the two sides 32-30.

"We always like going towards the city at the end. In the second half it was like going home. In the second half the guys could hear them [the crowd] and worked overtime," Love said.

"You can see by the scenes at the end of the game, to the region it just means everything to be honest."

The Hawkes Bay forwards held sway at lineout and ruck time through the opening 40 minutes, setting up the only try of the half to fullback Corey Jane.

The battle of the trenches turned around after the break, with Nelson Bay's sole try to hooker Dillin Clark helping them to a 16-7 lead midway through the second spell.

The boot of Nelson Bays centre Aaron Kimura, who kicked 14 points, was crucial. His fourth penalty provided a buffer when Hawkes Bay moved within two points of the lead through an opportunist try to winger Karl Mudzamba.

What happens next

* Nelson Bays play Northland for a spot in next year's first division at Trafalgar Park, Nelson, this Saturday, 2.35pm.

* No second division side have ever won the promotion/relegation playoff


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