Hawke's Bay rugby union are putting on a brave face as the region weighs a joyous six days with one calamitous night.
It took 44 years to bring the famous log 'o wood back to a region that embraced it like few others and just 10 minutes of frenetic rugby to lose it again.
There were surreal scenes at McLean Park on Saturday night after Hawke's Bay let in two late tries to lose 27-24 to Counties-Manukau.
The mood of the day had been celebration. A sea of black and white jerseys packed the stands and the embankment buzzed as though it had been transported back to the great Shield era of the 1960s.
And administrators rubbed their hands together at the queues gathered at the merchandise stalls and turnstiles.
With potential for three more challenges this season the local union were predicting a possible $1 million windfall.
Fast forward 80 minutes and it was as though the bride had left the groom standing at the alter.
As a few ecstatic Counties fans flocked around their team, the Magpies players dribbled out of a deathly silent dressing room, doing their best to avoid the past players who had donned their blazers and ties for the occasion.
A day later as he did his grocery shopping in Napier, Hawke's Bay Rugby Union chief executive Mike Bishop was resigned to life returning to normal.
However, he was determined to accentuate the positive rather than dwell on his initial disappointment.
"It's a boost on all fronts really. We haven't calculated what that is [financially] yet, but there is no question it will be of significant benefit to us," he said of the unbudgeted sell out crowd.
"Once we've done the numbers that game alone will probably ensure we have a profitable season. Yes, it would have been nice to have it in town for a bit longer on that basis, but we haven't, so we move on.
"We were aiming towards a solid financial season anyway, so this is really an icing on the cake, but the key thing now is to dwell on the rugby message it sent to the community. It was great to see young and old alike embracing the Shield and what it means to Hawke's Bay."
But while some might dwell on the financial side, Bishop said the "feel good factor" in the region was priceless.
"We are all disappointed we've lost it, but good on Counties because it's the first time they've won it in their history, that needs to be acknowledged.
"It was an exciting game of rugby in front of a packed house at McLean Park.
That illustrates loud and clear that provincial union rugby is alive and well."
He predicted the crowd would probably drop by about half for the Magpies next home match against Northland.
But Bishop was quick to note how good it was for New Zealand's provinces that the Shield was on the move.
In fact, the last time the log 'o wood was such a hot potato was in 1996 when Taranaki, Waikato and Auckland were all successful challengers.
If Counties are to lose it in coming weeks it would equal the 1950 season when it changed hands four times between Canterbury, Wairarapa Bush, South Canterbury and Northland.
Though Hawke's Bay's kick-heavy tactics were the talk of the town head coach Craig Philpott simply thought his players had eased off too early.
"I thought we played the majority of the rugby, but probably a little inaccurate at times and in that last 15 minutes there were a couple of tackles we just shouldn't have fallen off. To be honest it looked like we were the team that had played three games in a week and not them.
"We got ahead with 10 to go and possibly guys thought we were out of jail. You can never do that and particularly in a Shield game where you have to play for 81 minutes."
- © Fairfax NZ News