Auckland Aces underlined their dominance of the HRV Cup with an eight-wicket win over Northern Knights at Bay Oval in Mt Maunganui today.
With only one round before the final on January 2, Auckland restricted second-placed Northern to 135 for eight in their 20 overs, then cantered home with nine balls to spare on the back of a breezy 77 from Lou Vincent.
The win puts them well clear at the top of the table on 28 points, with only one loss from nine games.
Central Stags eased into second with 22 points courtesy of today's 29-run win over Wellington Firebirds at the Basin Reserve. The third match of the round, between Canterbury and Otago at Molyneaux Park in Alexandra, was abandoned due to rain.
Northern's decision to bat on winning the toss backfired after three balls, Michael Bates capturing the wicket of skipper Brad Wilson as a top edge flew to the safe hands of Colin Munro at third man.
That brought Daniel Flynn to the wicket, and the former Black Cap laid waste to Bates in the third over, belting three consecutive sixes and a four with an impressive display of power hitting.
But accurate bowling from Auckland meant the runs dried up and he fell to Andre Adams four balls into the eighth over trying to force the pace.
Flynn's 37 was Northern's highest score, coming off 25 balls and including three sixes and three fours.
For Auckland, Daryl Tuffey impressed with good line and length, extracting enough movement to keep Northern's batsmen on their toes.
He finished with figures of 2-21 off his four overs, with Andre Adams adding valuable back-up with 2-22.
Although Auckland lost Colin de Grandhomme early for 12, Jimmy Adams -- who was unbeaten on a steady 33 from 37 -- and Vincent put on 110 for the second wicket to secure the win.