The Northern Knights treated a depleted Wellington Firebirds bowling attack with disdain as the defending champions cruised to a 10-wicket Plunket Shield cricket win at the Basin Reserve today.
The Firebirds were always on the back foot after folding for 274 in their first innings, with the Knights racking up an imposing 469 all out in reply.
The Firebirds limped to 147 for six at stumps yesterday, adding another 119 today to leave the Knights a perfunctory 72 runs for the outright win.
This they achieved at a canter, openers Brad Wilson and Anton Devcich taking a shade over 13 overs to wrap up the result.
Wilson's 27 came off 32 balls, while Devcich was only slightly more circumspect with 36 off 54.
The Firebirds' bowling attack lacked penetration, with pace bowlers Mark Gillespie, Leighton Burtt and Dewayne Bowden missing through injury, while Ili Tugaga was not considered for selection because of disciplinary considerations.
Knights seamer Graeme Aldridge picked up another five-wicket bag to go with his 6-45 against the Otago Volts last week.
After racing through the Firebirds' top order yesterday -- he ended the day with three for 25 -- Aldridge cleaned up the tail to finish with figures of five for 47, his 10th five-wicket haul in a 12-year first-class career.
In only his sixth first-class match, Jason Donnelly provided valuable support, his left-arm spin picking up three for 80 and included the useful scalps of Neil Parlane for seven and Grant Elliott for 35.
The Firebirds have lost both their matches outright this season, continuing on from the last six matches of their 2009-10 campaign, when they recorded a draw and five outright defeats.
Day 3: Aldridge hits Firebirds early
Northern Knights seamer Graeme Aldridge continued his recent vein of rich form at the Basin Reserve today, as the Wellington Firebirds struggled to 147 for six on the third day of their Plunket Shield cricket match here.
They trail the Knights by 48 runs, after the defending champions rocketed through to be all out for 469 shortly after lunch today.
Aldridge finished today with 3-25 off 11 overs, picking up the Firebirds' first three wickets by the 18th over.
He snared an early breakthrough in dismissing Firebirds opener Josh Brodie with the score on 45. A full ball caught Brodie off balance as he looked to drive through the covers. Instead, he skied to the ball to Anton Devcich for a comfortable catch forward of point after having batted nearly an hour for eight runs.
Cameron Merchant disappeared two overs later, caught at deep backward square leg by Trent Boult, and Aldridge picked up his third wicket when he trapped Matthew Bell plumb in front for 31 in the third over after tea.
The left-arm spin of Jason Donnelly claimed the scalp of Neil Parlane to leave the Firebirds 70 for four, and bring skipper Grant Elliott to the wicket.
who joined with Lance Woodcock in a 58-run fifth-wicket stand.
Elliott fell to Donnelly for 35, with Woodcock trapped lbw by Devcich four balls later for 31 to leave the Firebirds with a struggle to make the Knights bat again.
The Knights had continued feasting on loose Firebirds bowling when play resumed this morning, advancing fluently from their overnight score of 295 for five.
Joseph Yovich joined the long list of half century-makers, reaching 77 while Aldridge fell just short when dismissed for a hard-hit 49 to end an entertaining 84-run stand with Yovich for the seventh wicket.
Yovich reached 50 for the 27th time at this level, joining an accomplished group who surpassed the half-ton yesterday -- Brad Wilson (91, eighth 50), Michael Parlane (61, 34th), James Marshall (72, 30th) and Scott Styris (51, 30th).
The Firebirds struggled for penetration with the ball, Woodcock returning the best figures with 3-127 off 32.1 overs.
Day 2: Knights in driver's seat
The Wellington Firebirds grabbed three late wickets but they could not stop the Northern Knights from snaring pole position and first innings points after two days of their Plunket Shield cricket match at the Basin Reserve here today.
The visitors have a 21-run lead with five first innings wickets in hand after ending the second day on 295 for five in response to the Firebirds' first dig of 274.
The Knights' top order fired with the first four batsmen notching half centuries, though they blotted their copybook late today by losing three wickets for just eight runs.
Brad Wilson (91) and Michael Parlane (61) posted a 114-run opening stand before captain James Marshall (72) and Scott Styris (51) carried on the momentum as the Knights breezed past the Firebirds' total for the loss of just the openers.
But New Zealand allrounder Grant Elliott struck two late blows and Australian fast bowler Andrew Lamb delivered a third to turn a great day for the visitors into just a very good one.
Elliott, with two for 41 off 13 overs, has been the best of the Firebirds bowlers.
Earlier, the Firebirds could only add 19 runs to their overnight total of 255 for seven before being dismissed as young left arm swing bowler Trent Boult continued to wreak havoc, mopping up the tail to finish with the outstanding figures of five for 48 off 25.2 overs.
Day 1: Elliott rescues Firebirds with ton
Grant Elliott had a steady hand on the tiller to guide the Wellington Firebirds out of stormy waters against the Northern Knights when their Plunket Shield cricket match began here today.
Elliott, 31, saved more blushes for his side -- who have developed a reputation in recent seasons for jittery batting -- crafting a sixth first-class century as the hosts recovered to 255 for seven by first-day stumps at the Basin Reserve.
The six-test New Zealand allrounder reached 122 in a six-hour knock which ended on the final ball of the day when he was caught by James Marshall off the bowling of left-arm spinner Jason Donnelly.
It ended a 165-run seventh wicket stand between Elliott and Harry Boam, the youngster unbeaten on a patient 78.
Despite the late setback, the Firebirds will be relieved after slumping to all-too-familiar trouble at 90 for six after being inserted by Knights skipper Marshall on a day marked by strong winds.
Four of the top six batsmen fell for single figures as the visiting seamers, particularly Trent Boult and Bradley Scott, caused problems. That pair bagged two scalps each.