Otago riding high

A record total by the Otago Volts and a devastating display from their young paceman James Fuller sealed an innings victory inside three days over the HELL Wellington Firebirds.

Sitting pretty on 575 for five overnight, the Volts began the day by notching their highest First-Class score, Ian Butler and Mark Craig easing past the old mark of 624 against a flagging Firebirds attack.

Within the hour the hosts had declared on 651 for nine, before rolling the Wellingtonians for a mere 157 in under four hours to claim maximum points by a massive innings and 240 runs. The victory also edges the Volts ahead of the Stags at the head of the table, albeit pending the outcome tomorrow of the Stags' game in Napier.

Continuing his sharp HRV Cup form, 23-year-old Fuller was merciless as he snaffled a career-best six for 24 from just 12.5 overs to return ten for 79 for the match - the first time he has bagged 10 in a First-cCass match, and only the second 10-for by any bowler this season.

The Firebirds had needed a mighty 397 simply to make the Volts bat again, but the southerners gave them few chances with Luke Ronchi (49) and Stephen Murdoch (40) the only batsmen to get starts. Blair Soper chimed in to pick up the prized wicket of Jesse Ryder, bowling him on 18, while Sam Wells was the only other wicket-taker of the innings, trapping top-scorer Ronchi in front of his stumps to deny him so much as a half-century.

Day one and two: Otago in full control

The Otago Volts have continued inflicting misery on the HELL Wellington Firebirds at University Oval, just days after beating them in the HRV Cup Final.

Turning the screws after lunch on the first day, 21-year-old left-armer Blair Soper collected his maiden five-wicket bag of five for 76, while James Fuller played a useful support role taking 55 for four. Between them they permitted no batsman to reach 50, the Volts pocketing the maximum four bowling bonus points as the Firebirds were dismissed for 254.

Despite the early loss of Aaron Redmond (the first of three wickets for Mark Gillespie), by stumps the Volts had taken further command, already 139 for one in reply with Hamish Rutherford on 90.

Although Rutherford was lost without adding to his score the next morning, day two saw the Volts neatly convert that healthy start into a position of dominance. Michael Bracewell and Neil Broom knuckled down to build a partnership of 291 for the third wicket, during which Bracewell celebrated his maiden First-Class ton while the ever-productive and efficient Broom achieved his 12th First-Class century.

The young Bracewell very nearly made it a double ton, but was caught by Jesse Ryder on the boundary for a nonetheless memorable 190, before Broom's knock ended on 134 at slip shortly afterwards. With the score at 444 for four, maximum batting points were already in the bag.

Broom and Bracewell's stand broke the longstanding Otago third-wicket record against Wellington (which had been owned by Test greats Glenn Turner and Bevan Congdon) and represents a new partnership record for all wickets between the two sides, the previous mark set by Ken Rutherford and Kevin Burns.

With a 208-run lead by tea, the Volts closed out the day by putting the Firebirds to sword for an overnight score of 570 for five: the highest First-Class total on University Oval and the Volts' all-time highest total against Wellington. The lead had been pushed to 316, with captain Derek de Boorder poised for his half-century.

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