Central Districts confirmed a third-place finish to the league stage of the Ford Trophy after beating Auckland by seven wickets at Pukekura Park. Auckland crashed out, collapsing spectacularly to hand Central Districts the advantage.
Having chosen to bat, Auckland were well placed to gun for a big total when they were 203 for 3 in the 33rd over, courtesy contributions from Jeet Raval (46), Sean Solia (60) and Colin Munro (62 off 43). Ajaz Patel's dismissal of Solia, to end a 36-run fourth-wicket stand with Colin de Grandhomme (37 off 23 balls), triggered Auckland's slide: they lost their last seven wickets for 34 runs and were bowled out in the 44th over. Left-arm spinner George Worker was the wrecker in chief, with figures of 4 for 22 in six overs.
Central Districts took only 39.1 overs to romp home, thanks to an unbeaten 106 by their captain Will Young (104b, 15x4) and his partnerships of 81 with Jesse Ryder (54) for the second wicket and an unbroken 137 for the fourth wicket with Tom Bruce (70* off 53 balls).
Central Districts finished on 16 points, while Auckland ended up on 15. Auckland were knocked out despite having the same points total and a better net run rate (+0.001) than Northern Districts (-0.307) or Otago (-0.448), since Northern Districts had earned more bonus points.
Northern Districts, as a result, finished in fourth place and qualified for the playoffs despite losing their last match to Otago, by two wickets at University Oval.
An unbeaten 143 (85b, 11x4, 8x6) by Anaru Kitchen helped Otago blaze through their chase in just 34.1 overs, though their frequent wicket losses kept Northern Districts in the game. Northern Districts may have fancied themselves when Otago slipped to 191 for 6, but Kitchen added 67 for the seventh wicket with Josh Finnie (32 off 16) to keep the match in the balance. Finnie and Derek de Boorder fell in quick succession to Ish Sodhi, who finished with figures of 4 for 85), before Kitchen and Christi Viljoen steered Otago home with an unbroken 26-run stand for the ninth wicket.
Kitchen also opened the bowling for Otago and bowled economically, finishing with 0 for 21 from six overs. That spell - along with James Neesham's 3 for 58 and Michael Rippon's 1 for 34 - helped restrict Northern Districts to 288 despite half-centuries from Bharat Popli (69), Nick Kelly (67) and Daryl Mitchell (72 off 48 balls).
Wellington ensured a top-spot finish after beating Canterbury by two wickets at Hagley Oval. An unbroken ninth-wicket stand of 20 between Matt Taylor (48*) and Hamish Bennett (5*) dragged Wellington home after they had slipped to 229 for 8 in a chase of 247. Despite the regular loss of top- and middle-order wickets, Wellington had always stayed in touch with the target thanks to Hamish Marshall's 100-ball 108. Marshall was one of three batsmen dismissed by the legspinner Todd Astle.
Canterbury's 246 for 9 was achieved on the back of an unbeaten 50 from their No. 6 Cole McConchie, who held one end together even as the lower order fell apart around him, with no one from Nos. 7 to 11 getting into double figures. Canterbury had made a solid start to their innings, thanks to Tom Latham (38), Henry Nicholls (64) and Peter Fulton (43), and were at one point 190 for 4 in the 40th over of their innings. Left-arm spinner Luke Woodcock was Wellington's most successful bowler with figures of 4 for 50.