South Auckland's dream run with the Ranfurly Shield is over.
Instead, Hawke's Bay is set for its second dose of Shield fever in 11 months.
Counties Manukau produced another gutsy performance in front of a packed house in Pukekohe but went down 27-21 in a Shield classic that kept fans in suspense for three minutes after the final siren.
It was a patchy win for the Magpies - after leading 20-9 at the break they conceded two unanswered tries and fell behind - but nevertheless the coveted Log o'Wood is on its way back to McLean Park where it was lifted by the Steelers for the first time in history almost one year ago.
Bolstered by All Black fullback Israel Dagg, Hawke's Bay didn't rely heavily on its star – captain Brendon O'Connor (2), Chris Eaton and Ryan Tongia producing tries for the highlights reel.
But the 39-Test speedster, whose defence has come under question in recent times, stood up when it counted.
With a resurgent Counties stringing together more than 20 phases after the final siren, Dagg, who was unwanted by the All Blacks in their first two Bledisloe Cup Tests, threw everything into one final tackle that rattled his opposite Tim Nanai-Williams and allowed Ihaia West to boot the ensuing turnover into touch.
Romantics would have been bitterly disappointed - Counties were hard done by in the first half where referee Mike Fraser awarded a controversial try and penalty that gave the visitors a healthy advantage at the break.
Rugby purists will insist the right team won.
Counties were embarrassingly inept a set piece and crumbled under the pressure of the Magpies' lineout jumpers and were shoved back at the maul.
Just as they have done so many times before, Counties used scintillating speed and strength to overcome the odds, snatching a one-point lead at the turn of the final quarter when August Pulu crossed.
But this was Hawke's Bay's day to shine and as West booted the ball into touch, a healthy number of Magpie fans rejoiced in the ECOLight Stadium stands.
Thanks to competition scheduling their reign is guaranteed to last at least 15 days before Otago touch down in Napier for their second shot of the year.
Counties Manukau: 21 (Onosa’I Auva’a, August Pulu tries; Ahsee Tuala 2 pen, Tim Nanai-Williams con, pen)
Hawke’s Bay: 27 (2 Brendon O’Connor, Chris Eaton, Ryan Tongia tries; Ihaia West 2 con, pen)
FULLTIME - Hawke's Bay have regained the Shield.
80mins - COU 21-27 HB
Counties build 14 phases and are awarded three penalties inside the attacking 22 but end up turning the ball over.
78mins - COU 21-27 HB
HB set the scrum but win a short arm penalty and clear to the 22.
77mins - COU 21-27 HB
Surprisingly Counties kick to touch again. The lineout is taken down five metres out and the Magpies manage to hold the ball up for the turnover.
75mins - COU 21-27 HB
Hawke's Bay lose the ball trying to cart it up through the middle. Counties hot on attack now.
73mins - COU 21-27 HB
Another Counties lineout is lost. That one just bounced off Taufua's head.
70mins - COU 21-27 HB
Counties get their hands on the ball after a long period of defence. The ball is easily picked off by the Magpie jumper in the lineout, though.
67mins - COU 21-27 HB
TRY! Counties don't clear their 22 well enough and the Magpies spread it wide with pace as Tongia strolls over in the left corner. West with a huge conversion.
63mins - COU 21-20 HB
Counties halt the desperate Magpies inside the attacking 22. They win a scrum, then a short arm penalty, and hoof it down field.
60mins - COU 21-20 HB
TRY! August Pulu goes to ground with Maama Vaipulu on top of him. He isn't held and reaches out to plant the ball on the line. It takes a few replays but referee Fraser is happy.
59mins - COU 16-20 HB
Quick ball is key for Counties and HB are again penalised for putting hands all over it at the breakdown. Counties camped five metres out from the Magpie line now. They opt for a scrum.
58mins - COU 16-20 HB
HB have conceded four penalties since the break where Counties has conceded none. Referee Fraser warns the Magpies for infringing at the breakdown. Next one is going to the bin.
56mins - COU 16-20 HB
Israel Dagg has entered the line with pace a couple of times now but has been well looked after by the Counties defence.
53mins - COU 16-20 HB
There's a break in proceedings as players from both sides call for attention from medical staff. They way this game's being played, it's not surprising.
52mins - COU 16-20 HB
Counties have lifted two or three notches. Fruean is swamped in the tackle and turns over the ball. Counties look to launch a counter attack but Nanai-Williams is bundled into touch.
49mins - COU 16-20 HB
TRY! Former Blues flanker Onosa'i Auva'a goes over as Counties prove they too can produce a good shove in the maul. Nanai-Williams slots the conversion from in front.
47mins - COU 9-20 HB
Counties win the penalty but there's still inconsistency in referee Fraser's calls. He waited an age to deliver a blow with the whistle when Ash Dixon was flopped over the ball not supporting his own body weight.
43mins- COU 9-20 HB
Hawke's Bay back on attack.
HALFTIME - Counties will feel extremely hard done by after that 40 minutes. Referee Mike Fraser has possibly cost them eight points that will be a huge blow to their confidence. Hawke's Bay have been dominant at the set piece and scored two brilliant tries to captain Brendon O'Connor but, in reality, the score at halftime should be 12-9.
39mins - COU 9-20 HB
THREE! Another controversial penalty by referee Mike Fraser hands West and Hawke's Bay three points.
38mins - COU 9-17 HB
THREE! Counties awarded a penalty on halfway. Tim Nanai-Williams steps up and slots it with ease.
35mins - COU 6-17 HB
TRY! Chris Eaton finishes off a clean break from the scrum over 50 metres out. Replays show Johnny Kawau was held back and denied a chance to make a tackle but the try is awarded.
30mins - COU 6-12 HB
MISS! Tuala is given a shot to reduce the deficit but sprays his long-range effort wide to the right.
28mins - COU 6-12 HB
TRY! O'Connor grabs a double, again from the back of the maul. This time he's over on the left side of the posts. West will feel more confident kicking this one. He nails it.
24mins - COU 6-5 HB
Magpies make easy metres through the middle but again Counties pilfer the ball inside their own 22. Pressure is relieved by a thumping punt.
21mins - COU 6-5 HB
THREE! Tuala grabs the lead back for Counties. Magpies didn't take the restart and conceded a penalty. Shield games often come down to little moments like that.
17mins - COU 3-5 HB
TRY! Captain Brendon O'Connor is over from a rolling maul. The Magpies definitely have an edge at the set piece and will do well if they can set more drives like that. West misses a relatively straight forward conversion.
14mins - COU 3-0 HB
HB have exploited the blindside well so far. They eventually send it wide and Richard 'barracuda' Buckman is bundled into touch. Good work to stay in the grind, though.
11mins - COU 3-0 HB
THREE! Counties build well. It's all started by a bruising Jordan Taufua run and they eventually win a penalty inside the attacking 22.
Ahsee Tuala slots the routine kick.
6mins - COU 0-0 HB
Jordan Taufua gets gassed when drifting across to cover Ihaia West. The livewire first-five put in a deft chip, regained but then had the ball stripped in the tackle.
4mins - COU 0-0 HB
Counties earn the right to exit their red zone by winning a penalty by immediately hand possession over with a crooked throw at the lineout.
3mins - COU 0-0 HB
Scintillating start by the challengers. Robbie Fruean with a nice touch already.
2mins - COU 0-0 HB
NO TRY! Ryan Tongia streaks 40 metres down the left flank before putting in a deft chip. He looks to have scored for all money but replays show he didn't quite ground the ball.
2:33pm - Steelers out on the field
Tim Nanai-Williams leads the side out to boisterous cheers.
2:31pm - Conditions are still pretty good. Looks like we're in for some running Shield rugby.
2:17pm - Teams just going through their pre-match warm ups. The rain hasn't come in yet but expect this to be a wet one.
Kick-off is at 2:35pm (NZT).
Hawke's Bay: Israel Dagg, Richard Buckman, Robbie Fruean, Andrew Horrell, Rayn Tongia, Ihaia West, Chris Eaton, Gareth Evans, Brendon O'Connor (c), Tony Lamborn, Mark Abbott, Michael Allardice, Jason Marshall, Ash Dixon, Brendon Edmonds.
Reserves: Ged Robinson, Adrian Barone, Tom Parsons, Trent Boswell-Wakfield, Ellery Wilson, jason Shoemark, Matt Berquist.
Counties: Tim Nani-Williams, Frank Halai, Rey Lee-lo, Bundee Aki, Sherwin Stowers, Ahsee Tuala, Augustine Pulu, Jordan Taufua, Onosa'i Auva'a, Johnny Kawau, Jimmy Tupou, Ronald Raaymakers, Jarrod Firth, Suliasi Taufalele, Pauliasi Manu.
Reserves: Sione Anga'aelangi, Sean Bagshaw, Viliami Rarasea, Maama Vaipulu, Kane Hancy, Michael Stanley, Sam Vaka