BY PETER GRIGG
The Nelson Pine Griffins have created their own slice of history after winning the Hawke Cup from Southland at Queens Park in Invercargill on Sunday.
The 36-run victory means that the cup returns to Nelson for the first time since 1997, a 22-year wait.
Southland resumed the three-day match on Sunday at 108/3 in pursuit of Nelson’s 297.
A brace of early wickets by left arm spinner Felix Murray ensured that the challengers got on the front foot.
At lunch, Southland had added 113 for the sixth wicket with the score at 232/5.
Southland were probably odds on to sneak home at this stage.
The wheels well and truly fell off immediately after lunch as Sam Baxendine took two wickets in quick succession.
With Murray providing the ideal foil at the other end, Baxendine was too good for the tail as he polished off the final pair to complete the formalities and finish with a four-wicket haul.
The Griffin’s innings was built on the back of a second wicket partnership of 134 between skipper Greg Hay and resilient opener Thomas Zohrab.
Zohrab went on to complete what proved to be a match-defining 122.
Nelson coach Ryan Edwards was understandably jubilant with the result.
“This is very cool, and it is a special group of lads who have played with real pride. They deserve everything they have achieved through working hard and sticking together.”
He was rapt with the way the team fought, especially the patience they displayed during the 100-run partnership.
“They stuck to the game plans and consistently stayed in the fight. We knew that it was only one ball away.”
Nelson will have their first defence in a couple of weeks but for now Edwards and his boys will enjoy the moment.
“It’s our time.”
Nelson Pine Griffins 297 (Thomas Zohrab 122, Greg Hay 72, Nic Clark 21, Jack Mockford 4/24, Jason Domigan 4/73)
Southland 261 (James Ng 87, Amarpreet Singh 78, Ryan Duffy 25, Sam Baxendine 4/46, Felix Murray 3/57, Ben Stark 2/25)
Nelson won by 36 runs on the first innings