A gritty 129 from Mathew Sinclair could not rescue the Central Stags from a defeat by an innings and 93 runs in the Plunket Shield match against the Auckland Aces at Colin Maiden Park.
The win ends all hope for the Stags who needed an outright win themselves to have any chance of taking the silverware this season.
Starting the day on 32, Sinclair looked to be building a useful partnership with Brendon Diamanti but his dismissal for 57 sparked a collapse that saw the visitors lose seven wickets for 88 runs.
Sinclair kept grafting away from one end but batsmen came and went at the other. The prolific run scorer eventually fell for 129, his 30th First Class ton that included 17 boundaries.
While Centrals 273 was a slight improvement on their first innings total of 269 it was still nowhere near Auckland’s sole effort of 635 declared.
Bates returned his best ever figures for the Aces, picking up five for 71, with new ball bowling partner Dean Bartlett providing valuable back-up with three for 70.
* Image of Auckland Aces bowler, Michael Bates.
Day 3: Central Stags trail by 247 runs with 7 wickets in hand
The Auckland Aces have pressed on through centuries from Gareth Hopkins, Aranu Kitchen and Colin de Grandhomme giving themselves a first innings lead of 366 runs over the Central Stags.
Hopkins carried on from where he left off yesterday, taking his overnight score of 133 through to a career best 201. The talented middle order batsman batted for just under eight hours and hit 23 boundaries in his marathon innings.
He was well supported by Kitchen who also raised his bat with the pair putting on 206 for the fifth wicket.
When Kitchen went for 116 the scorecard read 469 for five and gave big hitting Colin de Grandhomme a free licence to hit out.
The Zimbabwe born all rounder wasted no time getting stuck into the Central bowlers, pounding a blistering 106 not out off just 86 deliveries to push the Auckland total through to 635 for six with the declaration coming shortly after tea.
Spinner George Worker took three wicket but had to endure a massive workload, bowling 42 overs and going for 204 runs.
Central’s second innings got off to a horror start with Brad Patton out for two, George Worker for 12, and Tim Weston for 32.
Mathew Sinclair (32*) and Brendon Diamanti 40*) consolidated with a 68 run partnership and will resume tomorrow on 119 for three.
Auckland left arm seamer Michael Bates had two for 33 at stumps.
Day 2: Auckland Aces lead by 78 runs with 6 wickets in hand
A positive Auckland Aces line up has raced past the Central Stags total of 269 on day two of their Plunket Shield match.
Richard Jones provided the ideal start for the Aces with his 18th First Class ton. The Auckland opener hit 17 boundaries in his 123 and batted for just over five hours.
The rest of the top order fell cheaply with Jones and captain Gareth Hopkins providing the cornerstone of the Aces innings with a 135 runs partnership for the fourth wicket.
Hopkins kicked on bringing up his 11th First Class ton and will resume tomorrow on 133 not out along with Aranu Kitchen who is 27 not out.
The Aces will look to build on their powerful position of 347 for four.
* Image of Auckland Aces batsman, Gareth Hopkins
Day 1: Auckland Aces trail by 269 runs with 10 wickets in hand
Half centuries from George Worker and Bevin Griggs helped the Central Stags through to 269 in the Plunket Shield match against the Auckland Aces at Colin Maiden Park.
It was a disastrous start for Central with three quick wickets leaving them reeling at three for seven.
Opener Worker held the innings with 56 with the middle order helping give the innings some credibility.
James de Terte hit 34 with Brendon Diamanti making 23 before Griggs came in and hit a gritty 65 not out.
It was spinner Bhupinder Singh who did most of the damage with four for 93 while seamer David Bartlett and part time bowler Jeet Raval took two apiece.
Stumps were pulled when the last wicket Central wicket fell.