Wellington set up final date with Northern Districts
Wellington 240 for 2 (Murdoch 80*, Pollard 70) beat Canterbury 239 for 8 (Ellis 81, Woodcock 3-26, Elliot 2-26) by eight wickets
A strong all-round Wellington show, led by Luke Woodcock with the ball and Stephen Murdoch with bat, helped the team edge past Canterbury in the third preliminary final in Christchurch and book their entry to the final of the Ford Trophy, against Northern Districts on April 5. It was Wellington's second consecutive win in the preliminary finals - they ousted Auckland in their previous match - and it has now offered them a chance to take a shot at the title after finishing fourth in the group stage.
Opting to bowl, Wellington broke the back of Canterbury's innings within the space of 11 deliveries. Canterbury had made solid progress to reach 100 for the loss of one wicket in the 23rd over when Woodcock, the left-arm spinner, struck. He dismissed opener Tom Latham for 48, then had Rob Nicol stumped in his next over. In between, Grant Elliot removed Dean Brownlie for a four-ball duck. From 100 for 1, Canterbury lost three more wickets without any addition to their score. The situation worsened as they lost two more wickets in quick time to be 125 for 6 in the 33rd over. A late ripose by Andrew Ellis, who scored a career-best 81, revived the innings to 239.
Wellington made a strong start to their chase, with the openers adding 55. Michael Papps was out for 32, but Michael Pollard and Murdoch put on 95 for the second wicket to blow away any thoughts of a collapse. Pollard, who hit eight fours and a six in his 70, was the only other wicket to fall as Murdoch found another able ally in captain James Franklin, who scored an unbeaten half-century. The two helped Wellington stroll past the target with four overs to spare.