The Aces headed into the last round with the title already in the bag | Images: Photosport

Season finale: a battle of the spinners

Video Highlights



Bert Sutcliffe Oval, Lincoln

Final match of the 2021/22 NZC season

12-15 April, 2022


Toss: Canterbury who batted

RESULT: Canterbury defeated the Auckland Aces by 98 runs

First innings bonus points:

Canterbury 7; Aces 4

Total points this round: Canterbury 19, Aces 4

Plunket Shield champion for 2021/22: Auckland Aces

(*teams ranked by average points per completed match)
  1. Auckland Aces, 104 points
  2. Canterbury, 92 points
  3. Northern Districts, 68 points
  4. Central Stags, 56 points
  5. Otago Volts, 61 points
  6. Wellington Firebirds, 58 points


Selected Milestones

Henry Nicholls - 50th first-class match

Chad Bowes - sixth first-class century (consecutive centuries)

Louis Delport - third five-wicket bag (7-78) and career best bowling (previous best 7-88 in 2020/21)

Theo van Woerkom - maiden first-class bag (5-42)

Henry Nicholls 6000 first-class runs (3000 for Canterbury)

Will O'Donnell - third first-class century


Resuming at 6/0 and needing a further 366 runs, or to preserve their wickets, in order to complete an undefeated season, the Aces headed into the last day of their victorious summer with plenty still to play for.

Just as his opening partner Martin Guptill had done the night before, George Worker got his innings underway with a six, but would perish shortly after as he was trapped by Will Williams.

It would not be long in this end-of-season spinfest on a couch grass deck before the turning ball came into play, and Canterbury captain Cole McConchie made two big breakthroughs before lunch, trapping Guptill on 33 and then causing Mark Chapman to regret shouldering arms at 72/3.

The Aces would now need their last 300 runs and just under four per over if they were to pull off one last win in a strange and standout summer.

Williams separated the O'Donnell brothers at 119/4 on the stroke of lunch, Robbie O'Donnell signing off on a significant season with a knock of 31 as he was caught by Ken McClure.

The day before, O'Donnell had been named joint men's Domestic Player of the Year, alongside Central Stags batsman Tom Bruce.

The younger O'Donnell and Ben Horne dug in for a 75-run stand for the fifth wicket in the middle session, frustrating Canterbury for more than an hour until Sean Davey found the edge as Horne played on.

By tea, the Aces still required 158 runs, Will O'Donnell on 75* while Canterbury needed five wickets at 214/5.

When Aces lost Sean Solia almost immediately after the break, the nerves surely rose in the Auckland tent. Will O'Rourke was just getting started - quickly adding Somerville and Keene to push the Aces to eight down.

Nine down, with the shadows lengthening, Will O'Donnell posted the final century of the season.

Shortly afterwards, with O'Donnell left unbeaten on 119*, Williams claimed his third wicket in the innings to end the match and the season on a high for the hosts - as the only side to have beaten champions the Auckland Aces all summer in the Plunket Shield.


The Auckland Aces began the penultimate day of the season still trailing by 237 runs in the first innings, with just four wickets in hand at 88/6.

Will Somerville (37) and Sean Solia (29) were tasked with digging the visitors out of that hole and put on 56 for the seventh wicket in what proved to be the only stand in the innings to top 50 runs.

It was invaluable as the Aces, so rarely under pressure this season, sought to regain some control, but spin was proving a big factor in this match, and the innings would not survive until the lunch break.

Canterbury's Theo van Woerkom claimed both their wickets before adding yesterday's seven-wicket hero Louis Delport as his fifth victim: a maiden five-wicket bag for the Canterbury tweaker.

With fellow spinner Cole McConchie (4-73) meanwhile accounting for Simon Keene, the Aces were rolled for 172, a deficit of 153 in the first innings.

Canterbury was batting again before lunch, but would quickly lose both opening batsmen to Somerville - yes, spin doing the job again - after the break.

By tea, Henry Nicholls had helped Canterbury put an anchor down at 136/3, the BLACKCAP heading into the final session on 42 with the overall lead now 295.

The Aces may already be champions, but Cole McConchie was now holding all the cards in this match.

Simon Keene charged in and took out Nicholls for the second time in the game, stopping him on 45 soon after tea. Then Somerville added to his match haul and Canterbury was suddenly 194/6, McConchie declaring at 218/6 and putting the Aces back in for a brief period - long enough for Martin Guptill to get off the mark with a six - before bad light once again came into play.

The Aucklanders would now need to bat out for a draw or find a further 366 runs of the 372 target in just over three sessions to finish the season undefeated.


After a first-class century against the Otago Volts in his previous match (and innings) in Rangiora, Canterbury opening batsman Chad Bowes backed up with another century in Lincoln early on the second morning.

The hosts lost overnight batsman Henry Nicholls on 45 during the session after a 120-run stand with Bowes, Aces rookie Simon Keene continuing to pocket the big-name batsmen in his stunning season.

However, captain Cole McConchie joined Bowes to see Canterbury through to the team 200 and first bonus point, with Bowes' century his sixth in his first-class career, and fifth for Canterbury, in the Plunket Shield championship.

By lunch, Canterbury had reached 274/5 in their first dig - but Aces spinner Louis Delport had begun to make his mark on the innings, striking in the 59th over when Bowes skied an attempted sweep that keeper Ben Horne took off to collect for the dismissal.

Bowes' knock had ended on 127 and when McConchie became Delport's next victim soon after on 56, at 274/4, Delport was well on his way to triggering a sudden Canterbury collapse.

Cam Fletcher, Zak Foulkes and Sean Davey would all be dismissed for no score as Delport snatched a bag - and he kept going.

Leo Carter was left fighting to get his side up to and past 300 before Will Somerville added his first to push Canterbury to nine down in the 86th over.

The last pair scrambled to 325 before Delport picked up his seventh for the innings, dismissing last man Will O'Rourke in the 9rd over to finish with a stunning haul of 7-78 from 23.2 overs of carnage - trumping his 7-88 against Northern Districts in Whangarei last season.

The drama was not done for the session, Martin Guptill caught behind off the first ball of the reply, an immediate result for Will Williams.

After that, spinners again played a big part in the day as Canterbury tweakers McConchie and Theo van Woerkom quickly had the Aces in trouble at 65/5, and inside just 22 overs of the innings.

Leo Carter snapped up a sharp one-handed catch at leg slip to remove Will O'Donnell off the fomer on the cusp of tea, Mark Chapman joining George Worker after the break in a 30-run stand that was broken by the same bowler at 48/3.

Van Woerkom then had the big wickets of Worker and Robbie O'Donnell in quick succession as the slip fieldsmen continued to earn their keep.

When Ben Horne departed at 85/6 - McConchie's third victim, the Aces were still 240 behind in the first innings with just four in hand.

The onus now fell on Sean Solia and Will Somerville to try to get the visitors out of the jam.


Last season's champion versus this season's champion. The final match of the NZC and Plunket Shield summer of 2021/22 promised on paper to be a clash worthy of a season finale.

Heading in still undefeated throughout their first-class campaign this summer, the Auckland Aces had five changes from their previous match, with BLACKCAPS Mark Chapman, George Worker, Martin Guptill, and captain Robbie O'Donnell and impressive left-armer Ben Lister all pouring back in to strengthen the side after COVID-19 had led to stand-downs in the previous week.

Canterbury meanwhile had class wicketkeeper-batsman Cam Fletcher back with Cole McConchie electing to bat on the first morning in Lincoln.

The first day was a frustrating affair with only 34 overs possible, and Canterbury posting 50 for no loss on the board before rain stopped the momentum after just 11.3 overs.

No further play was possible until after tea, and then the final session would be bookended by bad light.

In the interim, Canterbury's Chad Bowes maintained his form and concentration on a long day at the office to see his side through to 154/1, before the umpires lifted the bails.

Bowes will resume on 90 not out on day two, while Sean Solia was the successful wicket-taker for the Aces when he removed Ken McClure caught behind at 50/1, immediately after play had resumed in the afternoon session.

Henry Nicholls will resume on 33 not out.






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