Rain has ruined Southland's Hawke Cup dream in challenge against Bay of Plenty
Southland cricket coach Steve Jackson says the province should be proud of what his team produced despite rain putting an end to their hopes of bringing back the Hawke Cup for the first time since 1992.
Southland travelled to Mount Maunganui to take Hawke Cup holders Bay of Plenty in a three-day challenge which started on Friday.
Wet weather ended up being the trump card throughout the three days but Southland still found enough time to put together a brave challenge.
Southland posted 247 batting first which was setup by Jason Domigan and host of starts from other players.
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Jason Osborne then picked up two wickets with the new ball to reduce Bay of Plenty to 30-2 before Domigan also picked up a wicket to make it 54-3 for Bay of Plenty.
Bay of Plenty got through to 70-3 before bad light stopped play on day two with 17 overs still remaining in the day.
When they resumed on the final day on Sunday Bailey Andrews-Kennedy took two early wickets to reduce Bay of Plenty to 95-5.
At that point Southland had one hand on the Hawke Cup as the belief in the camp continued to grow.
However, Jono Boult and Brett Hampton got Bay of Plenty through to 157-5 before rain yet again fell.
This time it didn't let up and eventually play was abandoned and the match was drawn meaning Bay of Plenty retained the Hawke Cup.
Jackson admitted there was plenty of frustration that there wasn't enough play to see if they could have knocked over the final five wickets before Bay of Plenty got through to 247.
However, he said what the team did show, not just in the challenge but throughout the season, is plenty of heart and effort and he couldn't fault the players on that.
"There was a lot of people writing us off before the season. We've had some detractors with some of the old players suggesting it is one of the weakest [Southland] teams and stuff like that.
"But these guys put up a hell of a fight and it is something Southland Cricket and the whole of Southland can be proud of.
"We've got a group of young fellas who have got the basic skills and they also showed that spirit you get from Southland teams."
Despite coming up short in the Hawke Cup challenge there was little more Southland could have done this season after going through the southern zone section unbeaten and putting themselves in a position of a potential victory against Bay of Plenty before rain flooded their hopes.
Jackson said just four players, who took the field in the Hawke Cup challenge, were regulars the season before and the host of new players would take confidence that a Hawke Cup victory is within their reach.
"They've become great mates and there is that camaraderie in the team."
Southland's teenage spinners Jack Mockford and Ben Lockrose will return from the challenge to line up in the Southland Boys' High School-Otago Boys' High School interschool fixture in Dunedin on Monday and Tuesday.
At a glance
Southland 247 (J Domigan 82, S Fitzgibbon 33, J McKenzie 23, B Andrews-Kennedy, J Ng 22, J Mockford 22; J Boult 23.5-8-44-3), Bay of Plenty 157-5 (J Boult 38no, S Davey 32no, P Drysdale 28, B Hampton 25; J Osborne 9-2-26-2, B Andrews-Kennedy 11-3-45-2, J Domigan 11-2-21-1).