Opening batsman Dean Robinson scored his fourth century of the Taranaki rep season at the weekend, but it wasn't enough to push his side towards a Hawke Cup challenge.
The century was one of the few highlights of the drawn cup qualifying series match against Hawke's Bay at Pukekura Park, with neither side doing enough to gain a cup challenge.
That honour goes to top-placed Central Districts team Manawatu, who early yesterday earned a first-innings win over Wairarapa.
After losing the toss and batting first on a slow wicket, Taranaki made 259 in their first innings.
Robinson's 109 was the top score in the match, but he was ably assisted by Tom Bruce, batting at four, who made 78. The pair shared a third-wicket partnership of 136 before Bruce was out with Taranaki on 155.
Even when Robinson was run out when hesitating over a single, Taranaki looked on track for a big total, but it wasn't to be.
Of the following batsmen, only Andrew Mason, with a brisk 28, and Jackson Braddock-Pajo (17) made it into double figures.
Right-armer Ben Jackett was the best in the field for Hawke's Bay, picking up three wickets, taking a catch and making a run out.
Hawke's Bay suffered an early setback with Taranaki opening bowler Douglas Hondo having Jacob Smith caught behind with just two runs on the board.
The other opener, Henry Hunter, settled in and anchored the innings, top scoring with 68. Jayden Waters and Toby Doyle both scored half-centuries but progress was slow with Hawke's Bay taking 10 overs to get the final 25 runs they needed for the first-innings points.
They reached the target with only two wickets in hand when Angus Schaw smacked a four through midwicket in the 97th over.
Play continued for another two overs before common sense prevailed and the players shook hands and headed to the dressing rooms.
Taranaki's bowling attack toiled hard all day yesterday, with Hondo and Peter Ingram picking up three wickets apiece.
Robert McLeod showed energy, bowling 19 overs at pace and conceeding just 38 runs and picking up Doyle's wicket.
Taranaki finished third in the six-team qualifying competition behind Manawatu and Hawke's Bay.
Robinson's century has him hoping for a recall to the Central Districts Stags.
He started his innings slowly, while he settled, and gradually built up momentum.
The tall right-hander brought up his century with a big six over the long-on fence in the 245th minute off 205 balls in the 66th over.
"I didn't realise I had got there [century], I thought I was on 93 when I hit it because the scoreboard was one out."
Three of Robinson's centuries for Taranaki this season were in Hawke Cup games, the other coming in the one-day Chapple Cup competition.
His latest innings took his tally of runs for his province to 623, which will win him the association's batting cup.
"I'm pretty happy with the way things are going for Taranaki this year and it's frustrating not to be able to do it at the next level, but I've done all I could do now."
Robinson said the word from CD was that he had to go back and score runs at the provincial level.
"I've done all I can do. It's up to them now."
Meanwhile, head coach Kerry O'Neill has finished what is his second stint as coach of the Taranaki senior rep team, having done the job for four years in the 1990s.
"It's disappointing, disappointing for me because that is my last game as coach," said O'Neill, who has been in the job for the past three seasons. "We've brought some good young players through this season, so it's a good time to sign off and a good time for someone different to take over," he said.
"I honestly think these guys are set up with the promising young guys coming through. I'm confident about their chances next year."
O'Neill said the province was still missing a genuine quick bowler.
At the same time he said the young pace bowlers in the side were coming on well, McLeod in particular.
"He bowls a heavy ball and if he gets a bit fitter he could become a very useful bowler to have."
- Taranaki Daily News
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