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Auckland's loss hands Canterbury third Shield

Tom Blundell and Peter Younghusband's sixth-wicket 184-run partnership was pivotal to Wellington's victory Getty Images

The winners of the Plunket Shield were decided in the last hour of the last round of matches as Auckland, who needed a win to lift the trophy, went down to Central Districts by three wickets and Canterbury clinched their third title in four years. Canterbury were leading the table with 101 points before the last round, followed by Auckland with 93 points. While Canterbury went down to Wellington by seven wickets, taking four points to finish on 105, Auckland's loss meant they finished third with 98 points after being overtaken by Northern Districts, who beat Otago by three wickets.

Auckland had a sniff of victory and the title by reducing Central Districts to 281 for 7 in the chase of 301 before an unbeaten 43 from Tom Bruce steered Central Districts home, in Napier. The chase was led by George Worker's 130 off 144, his sixth first-class hundred, but they stuttered from 192 for 2 to 213 for 5, and soon 281 for 7, before Bruce's rescue act earned them 16 points. Earlier, Auckland were restricted to 200 for 9, thanks to a five-for from Navin Patel, after a rain-affected first day. But they fought back by dismissing Central Districts for 181 as Colin Munro (3 for 22) and Tarun Nethula (4 for 49) disturbed the opposition's top and middle order. With a slender lead, Auckland had a shot at victory by declaring on 281 for 7 after fifites from Michael Guptill-Bounce (52), Munro (56) and Mark Chapman (55) but Central Districts overhauled the 301 target in under 70 overs by scoring at 4.37 runs per over.

In Christchurch, Canterbury began the final day leading Wellington by 59 runs with only four wickets in hand. Troubled by the Wellington quicks, none of Canterbury's top five could score in excess of 15 in the second innings. Captain Andrew Ellis, however, stretched his overnight score of 34 to 110 - his ninth first-class century - while No. 9 Logan van Beek added an unbeaten 54 to his first-innings score of 66, pushing the lead past 200, prompting Canterbury to declare on 293 for 8.

Chasing 227, Wellington secured the victory for the loss of only three wickets, piloted by an unbroken fourth-wicket stand of 170 between Hamish Marshall (105* off 94) and Tom Blundell (63*). It was the second win in ten matches for Wellington, whose tally of 86 points earned them a fourth-place finish.

Blundell had earlier anchored Wellington's reply to Canterbury's first-innings tally of 197 with a 113. He added 184 runs for the sixth wicket with Peter Younghusband, who fell three short of a maiden first-class century. The duo helped their side take a 67-run lead, before Canterbury medium-pacer Will Williams rolled them over over with a career best 4 for 37.

Northern Districts, meanwhile, stole a three-wicket win against Otago, with heroic centuries from Daryl Mitchell (106) and Tim Seifert (151) in the fourth innings in Dunedin. Like Central Districts, Northern Districts were set a stiff target - of 347 - but the twin centuries meant three wickets from each of Michael Rae and Rhys Phillips went in vain.

Northern Districts' fourth win of the tournament was set up by 11 wickets from Ish Sodhi. Otago had earlier secured a first-innings lead of 157 after a double-century from Anaru Kitchen (207) helped them score 432 for 8. Northern Distrcits were bowled out for 275 in reply, only Dean Brownlie scoring a half-century, with Nathan Smith and Rae striking thrice each. However, Sodhi's 7 for 59 in the third innings meant Otago declared at 189 for 8, despite strong contributions from the top order, and Northern Districts aced the daunting chase by losing no more than seven wickets.