Off the back of a sizzling second spell, a brilliant display by halfback Folau Fakatava and some irresistible support play and offloading, the Magpies beat a brave Northland Taniwha 36-24 at Napier’s McLean Park.
It may be enough for the Ranfurly Shield holders to win promotion to the Premiership, depending on the 2021 format of the Mitre 10 Cup.
For the Taniwha, in their first national final since their 1997 NPC second division triumph, there will be disappointment, but they threw the proverbial kitchen sink at the home side in the first half, which was tied 17-all at oranges.
In all, there were 10 tries scored in a worthy final. A beautiful Napier sunset drew the curtain on a fine Championship campaign by the top qualifiers Hawke’s Bay.
While Northland scored first via prop Luatangi Li, the Magpies hit back with the first of a double to wing Jonah Lowe. It was nip and tuck in a frenetic opening stanza which lacked rhythm but not action.
Taniwha blindside flanker Tom Robinson, set on his way by wing Jone Macilai, galloped away for a try, though he later limped off with a leg injury. The Magpies, however, proved impossible to contain as the match wore on.
Second five Neria Fomai added his second try, while inspirational captain Ash Dixon crossed for his ninth of the season. They had two further tries rubbed out by the TMO, which might have blown out the scoreline.
Northland No 12 Tamati Tua did score a late consolation try, but the Taniwha had to bow to the undisputed best side in the Championship.
Hawke’s Bay 36 (Jonah Lowe 2, Neria Fomai 2, Lolagi Visinia, Ash Dixon tries; Lincoln McClutchie 2 con, Caleb Makene con) Northland 24 (Luatangi Li, Will Grant, Tom Robinson, Tamati Tua tries; Dan Hawkins con, Johnny Cooper con) HT: 17-17