The High Commissioners Cup has returned to Napier as Hawke's Bay Samoa just held off Wanganui Samoa 34-30 in Levin on Saturday.
In the final round robin weekend, Wanganui came in on the back of a loss to Horowhenua Kapiti and a win over Manawatu, and so needed to beat Hawke's Bay with a good differential after they had accounted for the other teams.
It was an entertaining tussle, with the scores tied 17-all at halftime, but Hawke's Bay made it home by scoring six tries with two conversions.
Their standout player was Magpies representative Fa'alemiga Selesele, the 30-year-old flanker who has played for Samoa in both XV's and sevens rugby.
Wanganui's tryscorers included Alex Mulipola and Lote Tauailoto, with the latter scoring right on fulltime to close the gap after the favourites had got their decisive sixth try to lead by 10 points with two minutes remaining.
The Wanganui team, coached by Ace Malo, started with their campaign with a 21-6 loss to Horowhenua-Kapiti Samoa in Levin, but rebounded by beating Manawatu Samoa 52-29 at Spriggens Park.
To fill the gap week between tournament games, they faced Wairarapa Bush Development last weekend at Spriggens Park for a narrow 29-26 loss.
Wanganui were the defending Cup holders, having upset Hawke's Bay Samoa 23-15 in the final at Marton Park last year, but this season's tournament did not have a grand final.
Hawke's Bay Samoa have been dominant, winning the Cup for three of the past four years.