The Canterbury Wizards have bounded into contention for the Plunket Shield on the back of an excellent five wicket victory over the Wellington Firebirds.
They chased down the imposing target of 306 to complete the outright win at MainPower Oval in Rangiora.
A superb 77 from Peter Fulton got the run chase off to a solid start before brilliant unbeaten 135 run partnership between Shanan Stewart and Dean Brownlie sealed the win.
The normally aggressive Stewart was measured in his approach, making 92 off 186 deliveries in a very mature innings while Brownlie accumulated his 74 runs at of just 104.
Stewart completed an excellent match after top scoring in Canterbury’s first innings with 101.
The win bumped the Wizards into second spot on the table after nine rounds and gives them an outside chance of victory. They will need the Central Stags to deny competition leaders, the Northern Knights, any points as well as get the maximum from their final match against Auckland Aces.
Firebirds seamers Malaesaili Tugaga and Andrew Lamb toiled honestly and with purpose, returning two for 72 and two for 84 respectively.
* Image of Shanan Stewart - (Kerry Evans Credit)
Day 3: Canterbury Wizards require 261 runs to win with 7 wickets in hand
After a dismal first innings the Wellington Firebirds have turned things around in their second dig with a solid 447 to leave the Canterbury Wizards a run chase of 305 to win.
A 176 run partnership for the third wicket between Neal Parlane and James Franklin provided the backbone of the Firebirds innings.
Parlane made 137 before being caught behind off the bowling of Brandon Hiini with James Franklin going on to make 162.
It is Franklin’s tenth First Class ton and included 26 boundaries and a six.
Wicketkeeper batsman Chris Nevin chipped in with 31 not out but the rest of the batting line up fell easily.
Todd Astle did most of the damage with his second five wicket haul in as many games. The Canterbury Spinner got the early wicket of Cameron Merchant and Stewart Rhodes yesterday before mopping up the tail this afternoon to finish with five for 118.
Part time tweakers Johannes and Rob Nicol took two for 60 and one for 77 respectively.
The Canterbury batsmen have made a shaky start to their run chase losing Rob Nicol for one, Michael Papps for 18 and Johannes Myburgh for 15.
Peter Fulton (9*) and Todd Astle who is yet to score will resume tomorrow for the Wizards 261 more runs required.
Once again it was young seamer Malaesaili Tugaga who did the damage with two early scalps while Andrew Lamb took the other wicket to fall.
Day 2: Wellington Firebirds lead by 2 runs with 8 wickets in hand
Shanan Stewart hit his seventh First Class century to put the Canterbury Wizards in control of their Plunket Shield match against the Wellington Firebirds.
Wizards opener Michael Papps only added four runs this morning before departing for 64 and was followed by Peter Fulton (22) and Johannes Myburgh (35)
Stewart held the innings together, striking 101 before being the last wicket to fall with Canterbury all out for 318 and 142 runs ahead.
The only other batsman to make any meaningful contribution was Kruger van Wky with 31.
Twenty year old Malaesaili Tugaga was the best of the Wellington attack with four for 74 while James Franklin and Stewart Rhodes chipped in with two apiece.
The Wellington openers were far more resilient in their second innings putting on a 124 run opening stand.
A double breakthrough by spinner Todd Astle late in the day saw opener Stewart Rhodes depart for 59 and Cameron Merchant leave in the same over for a duck to have the Firebirds on 144 for two at the end of the day.
Neal Parlane remains at the crease on 78 not out and will resume tomorrow with new batsman Franklin on one.
* Image for Wellington Firebirds bowler, Malaesaili Tugaga
Day 1: Canterbury Wizards trail by 73 runs with 9 wickets in hand
Brandon Hiini took four wickets for the Canterbury Wizards as the Wellington Firebirds crumbled to 176 all out after being put into bat at MainPower Oval in Rangiora.
The only player to offer any form of resistance was Wellington’s best player this season – Luke Woodcock. The middle order batsmen hit 76 but the visitors struggled to establish any meaningful partnerships as wickets fell regularly.
New ball bowlers Hamish Bennett and Ryan McCone took two apiece before Hiini ran through the middle order to finish with tidy figures of four for 34.
In reply, Canterbury opener Rob Nicol fell for 17 but his in form opening partner Michael Papps kicked on, hitting 60 not out.
Peter Fulton is the other unbeaten batsman and will resume tomorrow with the Wizards in good shape at 103 for one.