Central Districts rout Auckland to move to top spot
Central Districts steam-rolled Auckland by eight wickets with 22.4 overs to spare at Pukekura Oval, to surge into the top spot in the Ford Trophy standings. CD now have 22 points, two clear of Auckland, who are in second spot. They will be joined in the semi-finals by Otago and Canterbury, who suffered reversals in the final round of league games.
CD's decision to field proved the right one as the seam trio of Michael Mason, Adam Milne and Bevan Small scythed through the Auckland line-up. Tim McIntosh exited for no score, setting in motion a seemingly interminable procession of wickets. At one stage, Auckland were tottering at 61 for 7, with Small accounting for five of the wickets. Colin Munro resisted with 44 off 54 balls, and his 52-run stand with Bruce Martin hauled the score past 100. However, the target of 124 proved insufficient to stretch CD, with Jamie How (46 off 46 balls) setting the tone for a quick finish.
Northern Districts ended their poor campaign on the high, overcoming Canterbury by four wickets to register only their second win in the tournament. Hamish Marshall and Anton Devcich were the heroes for ND, who finished bottom of the table despite their win. Chasing 235, ND ran into early trouble at 39 for 3, but Marshall (83 off 90) and Devcich (79 off 94) added 118 runs for the fourth wicket to steer ND towards victory, which was completed in the 45th over. Earlier, Graeme Aldridge and Jono Boult snared three wickets apiece as Canterbury struggled to break free after a sluggish start. Shanan Stewart's 64 off 98 balls built the base for Canterbury, and Todd Astle smashed 78 off 61 balls to provide the closing fireworks. The target, however, proved inadequate after the Marshall-Devcich association.
Jesse Ryder and James Franklin played headlining roles as Wellington ended their campaign with a 25-run win against Otago in Invercargill. Ryder's breath-taking assault yielded 96 runs off 67 balls, and lifted Wellington from 59 for 4 in the 14th over to 179 for 5 by the time he was dismissed in the 28th. In the interim, he smote five sixes and 11 fours, laying to waste Neil Wagner's (4 for 30) incisions in the early overs. Grant Elliott and Harry Boam ensured the momentum generated by Ryder wasn't wasted, as Wellington rattled up 276 before they were bowled out in the 48th over. Otago seemed out of the game once they had stuttered to 87 for 6, but Derek de Boorder (64) and Jimmy Neesham attempted a reprisal of Ryder's heroics. Their 109-run association sparked homes of a come-from-behind win, but a five-wicket haul from James Franklin meant Otago ran out of wickets with 15 balls to spare.