ROUND EIGHT RESULTS
Three exciting outright wins on the last day capped a weather-interrupted round eight — and sees the Mondiale Auckland Aces take their undefeated tag into the penultimate round, now with a significant buffer of more than 20 points (the maximum per round) on the points table.
Mondiale Auckland Aces beat SBS Bank Otago Volts by 10 runs at University Oval, Dunedin
The first result of the day really put the heat on the Firebirds and Canterbury further north, while extingushing hope for the bottom three sides. Aces quick bowler Lockie Ferguson took his third first-class five-wicket bag in a match-winning effort against the fiercely determined Volts, but it came at the cost of a broken right hand for the Volts’ Mark Craig, sustained as the BLACKCAP fended off a misfired no ball. The painfully close match was therefore over for the Volts at nine down, Craig having been forced to retire hurt on zero.
Defending champions Canterbury lost to Wellington Firebirds at Hagley Oval, Christchurch
A match that had started with Canterbury cleaning up their guests on a green wicket ended with the visitors exacting a handsome revenge. Veteran Jeetan Patel and rookie Iain McPeake took three wickets each as the Firebirds rolled Canterbury for 129 in the last session for a 54-run outright win that has seen the two sides swap places on the table. Both remain in mathematical contention, but Canterbury’s proactive declaration gamble in this weather-shortened match did not pay off, the Aces meanwhile storming ahead. The points pressure is bearing down on Canterbury, their three-peat dream dimming as the two teams ahead of then, the Aces and Firebirds, play each other in the next round.
SKYCITY Northern Knights beat the Devon Hotel Central Stags at Seddon Park, Hamilton
Meanwhile — an astonishing chase had been underway further north where the Stags’ stylish Tom Bruce (166 not out) and Bevan Small (76, a maiden first-class half century) combined to set their sights on a formidable target. Bruce had to be content with his second first-class century after debutant Zak Gibson broke their 177-run seventh wicket stand before Knights spinner Joe Walker helped wrap up a 115-run win with a career best four-for. The way the pair had been going, there was far more tension in the air than the three-digit winning margin suggests. The Knights, Stags and Volts are all now playing for pride, however.
ROUND NINE of 10 begins this Wednesday 23 March in Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin — with two of the contenders playing each other in a top of the table clash at the Basin.
Wellington Firebirds v Mondiale Auckland Aces at the Basin Reserve, Wellington
Canterbury v SKYCITY Northern Knights at Hagley Oval, Christchurch
SBS Bank Otago Volts v Devon Hotel Central Stags aat University Oval, Dunedin