The Otago Volts won by eight wickets with over four sessions to spare after ripping through the SKYCITY Northern Knights' middle order for the second time in the match.
A flurry of wickets in the morning session saw three Knights wickets fall in the space of eight balls and, despite young batsman Daryl Mitchell toughing out another rearguard half-century, it was a blow from which they never recovered.
Brad Wilson and Adam Wheater had fallen to Sam Wells in the same over, then a fresh Neil Wagner, entering the match as a replacement player, was too good for Jono Boult, the latter two batsmen both sent back with ducks.
Ian Butler worsened the Knights' pain by removing tailenders Anurag Verma and Brent Arnel with the last two balls of his 15th over. Arnel's wicket secured him 10 for the match and put him on a hat-trick, but with the Knights nine down he now had to told his breath to see whether his hunting mate Jacob Duffy would snare the last man.
Ultimately Butler would be denied the hat-trick as Mitchell smashed his next ball for four, and he missed out on a rare five-for in each innings when Sam Wells came back to claim his third victim - the resilient Mitchell - who had by then added 39 runs with number 11 James Baker for the last wicket. Dismissed for 227, that still left the Volts a doddle of a run chase, however: just 126 runs required after lunch.
Although Sodhi and Boult picked up consolation wickets in Rutherford and Bracewell, Aaron Redmond's unbeaten half century secured the win after drinks in the middle session, hitting the winning runs for an eight-wicket victory that strengthened the Volts' grip on second spot on the table, two games left for them to attempt to overhaul the Stags. The Knights remain in third spot, faced with an uphill battle to challenge the leaders.
Day two: Rutherford marks call-up with century
Hamish Rutherford celebrated his maiden call-up to the BLACKCAPS' Twenty20 squad with a powerful First-Class century to open day two in scorching sunshine at the Queenstown Recreation Centre.
Rutherford wasted no time in posting three figures, his fourth first-class ton arriving from just 113 balls, before carrying on to 162. Neil Broom had been his batting partner for the best of it, but was run out by Jono Boult short of a half-century while Rutherford himself was dismissed a short time later when he finally mistimed one from Arnel. After a brief appearance by Sam Wells, who became leg spinner Ish Sodhi's first victim of the innings, the scoreboard had been levelled to 259/5 by lunch, a lead of 42.
The Knights had the better of the middle session, rallying to dismiss the Volts for 319 and Brent Arnel finishing with four wickets. However, they suffered the early loss of Yovich before tea was taken at 39/1, then lost their aggressive strokemaker Daniel Flynn after the break. James Mitchell fell on 38, the second batsman of the innings (after Yovich) to be bowled by recalled BLACKCAP Ian Butler.
However by stumps captain Brad Wilson, batting at three in this match, was on the cusp of a half-century and with Daryl Mitchell had taken the Knights to a 39-run lead.
Day one: Volts Charge Up Early
The Otago Volts Plunket Shields match against the SKYCITY Northern Knights got off to an all-action start in Queenstown.
Having been put in, it was a promising enough beginning for the SKYCITY Northern Knights whose openers Joseph Yovich and Daniel Flynn galloped to a 50-run partnership. But the Volts began to seize control of the first session when Yovich was caught behind off Sam Wells, then Flynn fell lbw to Wells in his next over to give the Volts their second wicket inside the first hour.
Wells struck again minutes later to take care of Knights skipper Brad Wilson, his interim figures now 3-17 off four overs. When Ian Butler muscled in to claim James Marshall caught behind, and then bowled the Knights' Essex import Adam Wheater two balls later, the visitors were in serious strife at 84/5, while the Volts sniffed maximum bowling bonus points.
Jono Boult and Daryl Mitchell fended off a string of maidens from Jacob Duffy and Blair Soper to see their side through to lunch, but a fired-up Ian Butler struck after the break to claim his third wicket in Boult, bringing 20-year-old Ish Sodhi to the crease at 138/6. Sodhi and Mitchell had ground out their maiden half-centuries together under similar duress in Gisborne earlier in the season and again in Queenstown both young rearguard batsmen posted half-centuries, however they fell in quick succession shortly before tea. The Knights' tail had no answer for Butler, who ripped through the remainder of the line-up for a sterling return of 6-65 off his 19.4 overs.
By stumps Volts opener Hamish Rutherford was in sight of the three figures on 82. Although Anurag Verma and Brent Arnel had picked up a wicket apiece, his 45-run partnership with Neil Broom - who has a penchant for scoring tons against the Knights - was looking ominous, the Volts requiring just 83 more runs to overhaul the Knights' tally of 217.