Rain rescues Northern Districts, Bracewell saves Otago
Rain came to Northern Districts' rescue on the final day against Wellington in Whangarei, but despite the draw they remained at the bottom of the league. Northern Districts were 126 for 8 in their second innings at the end of the third day, trailing by 40 runs, but the fourth day was washed out.
After winning the toss, Northern Districts were dismissed for 288 on the first day. They lost their captain Daniel Flynn for a duck but Brad Wilson (37) and Joe Carter (56) put on 85 for the second wicket. They slipped from 104 for 2 to 119 for 6, though, during an incisive spell from Grant Elliott, who went on to take 5 for 33 in 17 overs. Scott Kuggeleijn improved the innings with an unbeaten 94 at No.7, adding 72 for the seventh wicket with Ish Sodhi. The tail could not last until Kuggeleijn got to a hundred, though, and Northern Districts were dismissed in 95.2 overs.
Wellington lost their openers early on the second morning but Stephen Murdoch (86), Elliott (62), and James Franklin (135) led the team to 454 for 9 before the declaration came on the third day. Sodhi took 4 for 144 for Northern Districts.
Trailing by 166, Northern Districts collapsed in their second innings, with Mark Gillespie and Andy McKay taking four wickets each to hasten the match towards an early finish on the final day. The weather, however, denied Wellington and they were fourth in the league, a point behind Otago and Central Districts.
Canterbury maintained their position at the top of the Plunket Shield with a draw at Rangiora, where they conceded a first-innings lead to Central Districts. The highlight of the match was a double-hundred from Greg Hay, which helped Central Districts score 483 in their first innings. Canterbury slumped to 11 for 3 after they were asked to bat, but Henry Nicholls and Rob Nicol scored 76 each and had a 146-run stand for the fourth wicket. Brad Cachopa and Andrew Ellis also scored half-centuries to take Canterbury to 346. Central Districts' Seth Rance finished with 6 for 86, his maiden five-wicket haul.
Central Districts' top order could not get going in their first innings either, and they were 60 for 3. Hay held the innings together with a double-ton from No. 5, while Kruger van Wyk and Roald Badenhorst scored lower-order fifties to take a commanding lead. Hay was unbeaten on 202, his highest first-class score, when the declaration came. Central Districts were 137 ahead.
The rest of the match was hit by rain, though, and Canterbury, after beginning their second innings on the third day, had faced only 74 overs when the game ended in a draw. George Worker and Dean Brownlie scored half-centuries to take them to 193 for 3.
An unbeaten hundred from Michael Bracewell saved Otago from an innings defeat on the last day against Auckland in Dunedin. Training by 286 at the start of their second innings, Otago slumped to 119 for 6, before Bracewell's 155 led them to the safety of 322 for 8.
Having lost the toss, Otago lost two early wickets but were steadied by Aaron Redmond's 74. Middle-order contributions were thin - Jesse Ryder made 44 - and they were dismissed for 232 on the first day. Michael Bates finished with four wickets and Matthew Quinn picked up three for Auckland.
Auckland also lost two early wickets before opener Tim McIntosh and No. 4 Jeet Raval scored hundreds to put together a stand of 246. Raval fell for 143 and McIntosh was hit wicket for 116. Coming in at 329 for 5, Colin Munro piled more misery on Otago with a 66-ball hundred to take the score to 518 for 6. He was unbeaten on 112 with nine fours and six sixes.
Otago started the last day on 23 for 0 and Bracewell came at No. 3 to steer them through periods of trouble with his fourth first-class century. The next best score was 32 from Neil Broom. Otago, who got one point from the draw, were second in the table but level with Central Districts on 68 points.