Michael Papps and Shanan Stewart hit centuries and shared a rollicking 243-run partnership to propel Canterbury to a commanding 260 for 2 by the end of the opening day's play at Hamilton.

Papps - the competition's leading run-scorer, led the charge with an unbeaten 109, a knock that was studded with 18 fours. Graeme Aldridge removed Todd Astle in the first over but the joy was to be short-lived. For the next 327 minutes, Papps and Stewart held centre stage. The 100 came up in 125 minutes and soon both batsmen reached their fifties in an identical 107 balls. There was to be no respite for Northern Districts as the duo, and Stewart in particular, upped the ante. Stewart was the first to reach his hundred but fell soon after to the gentle medium-pace of Hamish Marshall.