Triumphant Manawatu secure Hawke Cup challenge

By 3pm yesterday, the Manawatu cricketers had walked off sunny Manawaroa Park triumphant and heading for a prized Hawke Cup challenge at Tauranga.

Even with three players suffering back strains, they had wrapped up the Wairarapa team with tons of time and overs to spare.

Any chance second-placed Hawke's Bay had away against Taranaki was snuffed out as Manawatu finished their domestic competition unbeaten.

Hawke Cup holders, Hamilton City, caved against Bay of Plenty, so Manawatu's challenge is locked in from February 8 to 10. When Manawatu last held the cup in 2010, they massacred BOP by 284 runs after Manawatu amassed 659, with Jamie How bagging a double ton.

■ Fortunately for professional golfers Josh Geary and Hamish Robertson, aircraft can jet across the Tasman in three hours flat these days.

Both are entered in the LawnMaster Classic Charles Tour tournament at Manawatu, which tees off on Thursday morning.

On Wednesday they will be playing in Melbourne before scurrying to Tullamarine Airport that evening. It will be a close thing.

■ Word reaches us that Palmerston North's long-serving Black Sticks hockey captain Kayla Sharland will be going down the aisle.

Linton and Feilding High School product, and rugby player, George Whitelock popped the question in the romantic setting of Palmerston North's Esplanade earlier in the month and they are now engaged.

It seems both, for now, are happily settled in Canterbury.

■ YoungHeart Manawatu might be languishing last in the national football league but they had TV cameras focused on them in Auckland on Saturday.

Their match against Waitakere United, in front of a meagre crowd of 342, marked the first time an ASB Premiership match had been streamed live online. Waitakere and Oceania Football TV signed a broadcast agreement last week to cover all their remaining matches.

■ Manawatu cricket is known for the longevity of its match scorers.

On duty at every home and away game these days is 80-year-old Len Osborne, who is in his 20th season with the Manawatu team. As he tells it, he retired from teaching at Palmerston North Boys' High School to take up cricket scoring. Duncan "Big D" Mitchell was with Manawatu every year since 1985-86 but this year he has been internet scoring for first-class cricket.

■ It took until the final stage yesterday before there was a crash in the New Zealand Cycle Classic tour around Manawatu.

Murray Arthur, from the Capital Cycles Team, broke his collarbone after a crash in the last 15 kilometres near Longburn.

The rest of the tour was uneventful, with only one crash and the traffic control running more smoothly than last year's, except for the odd muppet who ignored the traffic marshalls and incurred race director Jorge Sandoval's Latin ire.

Manawatu Standard