Canterbury 213 for 8 dec (Nicholls 71, Broom 51, Kuggeleijn 3 for 47, Aldridge 3 for 70) and 150 for 1 (Fulton 91*) beat Northern Districts 256 for 8 (Devich 68, Popli 51) and 101 all out (Nuttall 6 for 35) by nine wickets
Four teams tussled for the Plunket Shield trophy in the final round. Defending champions and league leaders Canterbury, through captain Peter Fulton and left-arm seamer Ed Nuttall, knocked the other three away with a nine-wicket rout of Northern Districts, who were among the contenders, with more than a day to spare and claim the trophy.
Canterbury (107 points) declared their first innings trailing by 43 runs, meaning they would not take first-innings points, which kept Auckland (97) and Otago (92) in the hunt. Fulton took that decision to ensure Northern Districts (94) would not take first-innings points either, forcing them to need an outright win to even come level for the top spot at the end of the competition. But Canterbury had the better net-run rate.
Those permutations didn't matter when Nuttall's career-best 6 for 35 forced Northern Districts to 101 all out. He and Andrew Ellis, who was named domestic player of the year two days ago, chipped away at the top-order and soon 48 for 0 became 69 for 5. Six single-digit scores followed once openers Joe Carter and Brad Wilson fell by the 36th over and they were dismissed by the 54th: 10 wickets lost for only 53 runs.
Nuttall and Ellis accounted for eight of the 10 wickets, seven more than in the first innings when Northern Districts, who were put in, relied on fifties from Bharat Popli (51) and Anton Devcich (68), and Mitchell Santner's 67-ball 44 to reach 256 for 8 declared. Canterbury's reply slumped to 4 for 2 before Henry Nicholls' measured 71 off 126 balls and Neil Broom's 51 off 68 made up some lost ground.
Graeme Aldridge and Scott Kuggeleijn, who picked up six wickets between them, hit back as the score slipped to 186 for 6 and then 213 for 8. That's when Fulton gambled and he made sure it paid off, dismantling a final-innings target of 145 with a 91 off 53 balls including seven sixes and eight fours in the race to an 18th first-class title.