A gutsy hundred from Brynn Cleaver was the icing on the cake as Manawatu locked in another Hawke Cup challenge.
Rain ensured Manawatu's match against Taranaki at Fitzherbert Park yesterday was a draw, but that was all they needed to ensure they finished as the top zone two team.
Manawatu will now challenge Bay of Plenty, who were playing Hamilton today, for the cup from February 7-9.
Cleaver scored 148 opening the innings and faced 278 balls to make sure Manawatu were never going to be in trouble.
"We're so excited," Cleaver said. "I'm stoked for the challenge."
Manawatu set a solid first-innings total of 375 and Taranaki were 153 for 6 when rain forced them off yesterday.
Manawatu were already well in front in the Hawke Cup standings, but the points from the draw made things safe, as second-placed Hawke's Bay thrashed Wanganui by an innings and 227 runs.
Cleaver said it was his best batting performance and it was awesome batting with Roald Badenhorst, who crafted his own century with 117. It was the Cleaver's second ton for Manawatu and his highest score after his 128 against Bay of Plenty last summer.
Cleaver and Badenhorst put on a partnership of 222 for the third wicket after they lost Mitch Renwick and Luke Murray early.
"It was really tough at the start," 19-year-old Cleaver said. "They actually bowled in really good areas early on and throughout the day didn't give a lot."
Cameron Rowe had the other score of note with a maiden half century, scoring 53 in just his second game. Mattie Thomas did most of the damage for Taranaki with 4 for 69 from 30 overs.
Taranaki's batting didn't put up much fight as they were quickly 39 for 3 and it took 96 from former Central Districts batsman Peter Ingram to get them to 153 for 6 by lunch when the rain set in.
Left-armer Phil Mecredy had the best figures for Manawatu with 2-34 and had fringe CD batsman Dean Robinson out with just his second ball.
- Manawatu Standard
Does the All Blacks' 24-21 win over England strike a psychological blow ahead of next year's World Cup?Related story: (See story)