The Hawke Cup will spend its third successive winter residing in the heartland of Northern Districts after Bay of Plenty locked it away for the season by defeating South Canterbury outright in Rotorua on Sunday.
When Bay of Plenty wrested the Hawke Cup off its Northern Districts stable-mate Hamilton in late January, it was only the fourth time since 1932 that BOP had claimed 'the Ranfurly Shield of provincial cricket'. But a string of solid performances with both bat and ball fought off all would-be claimants this season as Bay of Plenty swept aside zone winners Manawatu, Canterbury Country and South Canterbury in succession to retain the cherished silverware.
Despite easily overpowering South Canterbury's first innings effort of 135, the final defence of the summer was not without its nervous moments, however. Chasing just 83 runs for an outright victory on the third and final day, surprisingly BOP stumbled to be five-down for not many, South Canterbury spin bowler Sam Carlaw taking all five wickets before Scott Steward steadied the ship and ensured the victory with an unbeaten 18.
Remarkably, Carlaw, who had taken 7-109 in the first innings, emulated Bay of Plenty quick bowler Tony Goodin with 12 wickets for the match. Goodin had destroyed South Canterbury's line-up with 7-42 in the first innings and 5-91 in the second.
Goodin had taken the first three wickets of the match without a run being scored, a jolt from which South Canterbury never recovered. BOP had seized control at 187/3 by the end of the first day, well on their way to an emphatic 188-run lead and ultimately the outright at Smallbone Park to cap off an historic summer, one that is already being talked about as BOP's best season in 81 years of existence.
Previous holders Hamilton had held the Hawke Cup since defeating Marlborough in March 2011.
Bay of Plenty Hawke Cup results for 2012/13:
January 25-27, 2013. Defeated holders Hamilton on the first innings at Galloway Park, Hamilton (Hamilton 255 (MJ Santner 60, JG Hatwell 48, AM Dodd 46, OG Ivins 29, AP Devcich 27; TG Goodin 4/74, BR Hampton 3/53, Bay of Plenty 701 (BR Hampton 194, JF Carter 187, B Popli 99, M McCann 69).
February 8-10, 2013. Defeated challengers Manawatu outright at Bay Oval, Mount Maunganui (Bay of Plenty 256 (B Popli 59, J Boult 42, BR Hampton 89 & 209/3 (RPO Drysdale 43, JF Carter 77, BR Hampton 41*), Manawatu 275 (BR Hampton 3-48) & 188 (TG Goodin 5-72).
Feb 22-24, 2013. Defeated challengers Canterbury Country on the first innings at Bay Oval, Mount Maunganui (Bay of Plenty 559 (JF Carter 84, B Popli 100, T MacRury 69, S Steward 92, M McCann 76, T Clarke 64; Canterbury Country 263 (TG Goodin 3-63).
March 8-10, 2013. Defeated challengers South Canterbury outright at Smallbone Park, Rotorua (South Canterbury 135 (JR Laming 80; TG Goodin 7/42, BR Hampton 2/41) & 270 (NKW Horsley 69, DM Laming 63no, GA Drake 47, JR Laming 43; TG Goodin 5/91, BR Hampton 2/43); Bay of Plenty 323 (RPO Drysdale 77, JF Carter 59, B Popli 44, BR Hampton 41; TJ Clarke 30; S Carlaw 7/109) & 83/5 (RPO Drysdale 23; S Carlaw 5/23)