Draw gives Manawatu ticket to Hawke Cup challenge

GEORGE HEAGNEY
Last updated 12:00 27/01/2014

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Yesterday's rain couldn't put a dampener on the Manawatu cricketers' dressing room as they knew they had locked up another Hawke Cup challenge.

The draw against Taranaki at Fitzherbert Park gave Manawatu more than enough points to top zone two and they will have another crack at the cup on February 7 to 9.

Manawatu will have to wait for the outcome of the rain-affected match between Bay of Plenty and Hamilton in progress, but it is likely to be a repeat of the game last year against Bay of Plenty.

■ Last week's earthquake did its best to interrupt Jorge Sandoval's New Zealand Cycle Classic throughout Manawatu this week, but it has just avoided trouble.

The 6.2 magnitude shake destroyed part of the Pahiatua to Pongaroa road, just short of where the new stage five from Palmerston North to the Saddle Road over the Pahiatua Track and via Wairarapa is meant to take place.

The stage turns off just before where the road is damaged.

The quake gave Chilean native Sandoval a hell of a shock, but he was relieved he didn't have to change the course at late notice.

■ While on the classic, Manawatu cycling fans will have few locals in this year's field to cheer for.

For the past two years there has been a Massey University team led by lecturer and former Australia pro cyclist Steve Stannard, but there isn't one entered this time.

In the field we can find former Palmerston North Boys' High School student Sam Horgan riding for Australian team Budget Forklifts and apparently Rico Rogers, riding for the OCBC Singapore Pro Cycling Team, was based here for a few years.

■ Manawatu has 42 keen multisporters entered in the 30th anniversary Ironman New Zealand in Taupo on March 1.

World championships competitors Aimee Perrett and Sue McMaster are among the 1900 entries, but there is a range of others, from an air force pilot to an early childhood teacher.

Competitors in the 3.8km swim, 180km bike and 42.2km run have a chance to qualify for the world championships in Kona, Hawaii.

■ Fitzherbert Park is road-worthy again now it has regained its warrant of fitness.

Following the two Central Districts A games at the Palmerston North ground in December, it passed the test with flying colours and is a first-class ground again.

CD chief executive Hugh Henderson said there was "no question" about it, so it's full steam ahead for the one-day game between CD and Wellington in March. The last first-class game was in January 2011.

■ Palmerston North's Brendon Hartley may be sharing a Porsche 919 hybrid with former Formula 1 driver Mark Webber at this year's World Endurance Championship.

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Porsche is yet to name its official lineup for the World Endurance Championship series and the Le Mans 24 Hours, but Hartley is likely to be with Webber and Timo Bernhard in one of Porsche's entries.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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