Bay of Plenty has defended the historic Hawke Cup with impressive ease in the opening challenge of the 2017 season, and will now prepare to host Zone 2 winner Hawke’s Bay in their next defence in Mount Maunganui, a three-day match starting on Friday 10 February.

After two days’ labour in the field, Counties Manukau finally bowled out Bay of Plenty this morning for 701, Tony Goodin’s dismissal on 46 meaning Bay of Plenty had, quite remarkably, equalled its own Hawke Cup record total, also 701 all out, set against Hamilton when they claimed the silverware in the 2012/13 season.

Counties Manukau was this afternoon bowled out for 220, a deficit of 481, BOP winning on the first innings after the captains shook hands.

The coming defence against Hawke’s Bay will be a pointed rematch of the final Hawke Cup challenge of last season, in which Bay of Plenty took the trophy off Hawke’s Bay’s hands.