English import Matt Wood proved his weight in gold as South Canterbury secured a Hawke Cup challenge for the first time in more than a decade.
The team will travel to Mt Maunganui to take on Bay of Plenty from March 8-10.
The game over the weekend at Molyneux Park against Central Otago had many twists and turns but ultimately it went South Canterbury's way, winning outright.
An impressive Wood was the chief destroyer, taking 7-58 as the hosts were rolled for 135 in the first innings.
Sam Carlaw's spin also did some damage, grabbing two wickets from his seven overs, while Craig Hinton took the first wicket to fall.
South Canterbury then managed a first innings lead of 124 with several players chipping in but no-one making a big score.
Former skipper Dan Laming, who made himself available for the first time this season, proved his worth, top scoring with 60, while Glenn Matthews made 47. Captain Nick Horsley and Ritchie Preston also made handy contributions.
Central Otago showed more spirit in their second dig, making 320-8, with the South Canterbury bowlers sharing the wickets around.
Hinton grabbed three while Wood added two more to give him nine for the match.
That generous declaration left South Canterbury chasing 206 in 50 overs but also gave Central a chance of an outright, which would have handed them the Hawke Cup challenge.
South Canterbury had a crack at chasing down the runs and made it with a couple of overs to spare.
Horsley, a former Northern Districts top-order batsman, made 83 and 18-year-old Glen Drake compiled a chanceless 85 not out, underlying his talent.
In the end, first innings points would have seen South Canterbury through but it was satisfying for the team to get the outright result.
In his first year in charge coach Robin Beeby's team, said it was very satisfying.
"I'm pretty pleased - it is a proud moment to get a challenge."
South Canterbury's last was when they beat Canterbury Country to win the Hawke Cup in 2000, so they don't come that often.
Beeby said it was certainly a team effort that got them home with everyone playing their part.
"We held some good catches in the first innings with Ritchie Preston grabbing a one-hander with a dive at second slip.
"I think the start gave us real confidence and Woodsy seven wickets were deserved. He bowled a great line and length."
Beeby's biggest headache will be who to leave in and leave out against a very handy Bay of Plenty team.
South Canterbury's successful team was Nick Horsley, Ritchie Preston, James Laming, Glen Drake, Craig Davies, Dan Laming, Glenn Matthews, Sam Carlaw, Matt Woods, Simon Murphy, Craig Hinton.
- The Timaru Herald