Canterbury 340 (Nicholls 102, Bates 3-57) and 362 for 6 (Fulton 101, Ellis 81*, Nicol 2-61) beat Auckland 294 (Cachopa 131*, Nuttall 3-42) and 407 for 6 dec (Munro 137, Astle 4-138)
Led by Peter Fulton's century and fifties from Neil Broom, Henry Nicholls and Andrew Ellis, Canterbury chased down 362 with eight balls to spare on a see-saw final day against Auckland at Colin Maiden Park. The result meant that Canterbury jumped from fifth to third, while Auckland are joined with table-toppers Northern Districts with 66 points, only a net run rate of 0.001 separating the two.
Auckland, having started the fourth day on 361 for 5, added 46 in 11.1 overs, before the declaration ensued. Chasing 362 in 86 overs, Canterbury were reduced to 42 for 2 in 12.3 overs, but Fulton (101) and Broom (78) combined well in a 174-run partnership to haul the visitors back on track.
Allrounder Rob Nicol struck in consecutive overs to derail Canterbury, dismissing Broom and Fulton, who had brought up his 16th first-class century. However, Nicholls and Ellis cracked quick fifties in their stand of 129 runs in 20.3 overs, as the game grew into a thriller.
Auckland then edged ahead running Nicholls out for a run-a-ball 54 before Todd Astle was trapped lbw for 2. However, Ellis stayed unbeaten on 81 off 82 balls to guide his side home amid immense tension.
Earlier, Auckland were rocked and became 124 for 5, after opting to bat. However, Colin Munro (62) counterattacked before Brad Cachopa took over and helped Auckland to 294. He cracked 16 fours and four sixes on his way to a career-best 131*. Ed Nuttal claimed figures of 3 for 42 and was assisted by two wickets each from Matt Henry and Astle.
Canterbury's start in their first innings mirrored that of Auckland, but they recovered, courtesy Nicholls (102) and Ellis (72). Henry, coming in at No. 9, also had some fun, striking 39 off 46 balls, as Canterbury ended with a 46-run lead.
However, it was wiped away soon, with Jeet Raval stepping up to lay a strong foundation for Auckland. Munro's rapid 137 and Donovan Grobbelaar's patient 63 saw them build on it, before Ellis' calmness helped Canterbury take the thriller.