Auckland and Canterbury post wins
A comprehensive batting display, led by Gareth Hopkins' double-hundred helped Auckland thrash Central Districts by an innings and 93 runs at the Colin Maiden Park.
Central elected to bat, but little else went their way as seamer Dean Bartlett struck twice before they could open their account, removing Brad Patton and Timothy Weston in his first over. Mathew Sinclair followed soon after to leave Central in disarray. George Worker and Bevan Griggs struck fighting half-centuries to give their side a semblance of a competitive score, as offspinner Bhupinder Singh grabbed four wickets to end the innings at 269.
When Central's bowlers reduced Auckland to 128 for 3, the game was in the balance, but things went pear-shaped for the visitors from there. Opener Richard Jones and Hopkins added 135 to all but wipe out the deficit before Jones fell for a fine 123. Anaru Kitchen continued the dominance with his captain, the pair putting on a massive 206 runs to put the game out of Central's reach. Kitchen struck 14 fours and three sixes in his sparkling innings of 116 before becoming Worker's third wicket. Colin de Grandhomme then walked in to heap more misery on the tired attack, smashing an unbeaten 86-ball 106. Through it all, Hopkins batted with consummate assurance and style, picking up 23 boundaries on his way to 201.
The declaration eventually came with a lead of 366 runs, and with little hope of survival for Central. The new-ball bowlers, Michael Bates and Bartlett, wreaked havoc once again, picking up eight wickets between them, while Sinclair fought hard with 129, but could not prevent the resounding defeat.
Canterbury were made to scrap for their five-wicket win over Wellington in Rangiora. After winning the toss, the Canterbury seam attack had Wellington reeling at 66 for 6. Luke Woodcock's rearguard 76 lifted them out of the morass, to an under-par score of 176, as Brandon Hinii grabbed four wickets.
Canterbury's batsmen then went about building a handy lead, anchored by Shanan Stewart's ton and a useful contribution from Michael Papps. Ili Tugaga ran through the tail to finish with four wickets and keep the lead down to 142. Wellington put up a much-improved show in the second innings, with the openers Neal Parlane and Stephen Murdoch batting patiently to add 124 and bring their side back into the game. Todd Astle then delivered a twin strike to create a minor wobble, Murdoch departing for 59, and Cameron Merchant, soon after for a duck. But James Franklin and Parlane joined forces to ensure that there was no collapse.
Parlane was the first to reach hundred, and eventually fell for a well-made 137 off 243 balls. Michael Pollard helped Franklin add 90 runs and raise visions of a spectacular comeback for Wellington, before both departed within ten runs of each other. Franklin struck 26 fours and a six in his 214-ball 162. Astle, who finished with a five-for, and Johann Myburgh, polished off the lower order to keep Wellington's lead down to 305. At 85 for 4, it was anybody's game and for the second time in the match, Stewart seized the moment in style. His 92 was supported well by Peter Fulton's 77, and Dean Brownlie's unbeaten 74, as Canterbury coasted home by five wickets.
In the only non-decisive result of the ninth round, Northern Districts and Otago played out a high-scoring draw in Whangerei. Otago opted to field and but couldn't make early inroads due to a solid opening stand from Michael Parlane and Daniel Flynn, who both struck 60s and added 113 runs. Nathan McCullum sparked a middle-order wobble before Brad Wilson's 107 shepherded the side, in the company of the tail. Peter McGlashan contributed 71, while McCullum and Nick Beard took three wickets each before Northern declared at 465 for 9. Craig Cumming and Darren Broom led Otago's reply with fine centuries and a 247-run stand for the second wicket. Cumming struck 27 fours in his 160, while Broom made 119. Greg Todd and McCullum then took over, with knocks of 91 and 88 respectively, as Otago went past Northern's score. They eventually declared 111 runs ahead of Northern, with Graeme Aldridge picking four wickets. Northern had no problems in surviving 63 overs and proceeding to 212 for 7 before the match was called off.
Auckland remained at the bottom of the table despite the win, while Northern maintained their top spot.