Tarun Nethula's all-round show - a match haul of nine coupled with a brisk half-century - helped defending champions Auckland trump Northern Districts by 71 runs, despite resilient counterattacks with the bat from HR Cooper across both innings.
Nethula waltzed to a run-a-ball 52 in the first innings, after five other Auckland batsmen scored in excess of 45 to post 461, validating captain Rob Nicol's decision to bat. Robert O' Donnell (75) shared a 115-run stand with Nicol (46) for the third wicket, before a 139-run tenth-wicket stand between Mitchell McClenaghan - who remained unbeaten on a career-best 73 - and Rajvinder Sandhu - who hit a 94-ball 82 in only his second match, the record for Auckland by a No. 11 - propped them up further.
Nethula, along with Sandhu, then ran through the opposition line-up, claiming four wickets each to bowl out Northern Districts for 334 in 106.4 overs in the first innings. Cooper stood out with a 101, ensuring his third-wicket stand with Corey Anderson (80) took his side close to 300.
Having conceded a 127-run lead, Northern Districts medium-pacer James Baker removed the Auckland openers for 68, but found little support from the other bowlers, as 20-year-old Glenn Phillips scored 109, his maiden first-class century in only his second Plunket Shield match and third first-class innings - he became the first player in New Zealand's domestic history to score tons across all three formats - first-class, T20 and List A one-day - in a single season, with all three of his hundreds coming on the same ground, the Eden Park Outer Oval.
Phillips, who peppered 16 fours and a six in his knock, was also involved in a 130-run stand for the third wicket with Nicol, who scored 47 before declaring on 202 for 4.
Chasing 329, Cooper backed up his first-innings century with a fighting 83 to keep Northern Districts in with a chance of victory, but Nethula bettered his first-innings returns with a five-for, the 11th of his first-class career to bowl out the opposition for 258 in the final session of the match.
Auckland, by virtue of this victory, have earned maximum bonus points from round seven of the Plunket Shield and trail top-ranked Canterbury by one position, while Northern Districts are placed third.
Central Districts, on the other hand, were knocked out of the tournament after a dramatic second-innings collapse. They did just about enough to salvage a draw against Wellington in a last-over thriller at McLean Park, but that was not enough.
Chasing 199, Central Districts raced away to 150 for 3 in 29.1 overs, after captain Will Young coupled his first-innings century with a 37-ball 38 alongside George Worker, who plundered 85 off 100 balls, smashing nine boundaries and one six. The duo added 71 for the third wicket off only 68 balls, but Young's dismissal in the 32nd over triggered a six-wicket collapse, with his side capitulating to 190 for 9 in the second ball of the 39th over. The last pair of Ajaz Patel and Blair Tickner, however, ensured they played out the remaining four balls, denying an outright victory to Wellington.
During Wellington's second innings, Patel's 5 for 106 from 49.2 overs was pivotal to Central Districts' bowling them out for 336, after captain Michael Papps (116) and Tom Blundell (51) put on 73 for the fourth wicket to guide Wellington to 183. Patel, the offspinner, thwarted any possibility of the opposition nearing 400, taking his tournament tally to 38 wickets while ensuring his side had a target under 200 to overhaul in less than two sessions.
Earlier, Central Districts responded to Wellington's first-innings total of 245 with 382, with Young's 124 and Jesse Ryder's 61 helping Central Districts take a lead of 137. Matt McEwan returned the best figures for Wellington, picking up 6 for 81, while Brent Arnel scalped four in the second innings, as Central Districts hung on to end the final session on 191 for 9.