The State Central Stags bounded into the State Championship cricket final on the back of a brilliant victory over the State Canterbury Wizards today.
They won the four-day fixture outright by three wickets after running down an imposing target of 448 at Pukekura Park in New Plymouth.
Hometown product Peter Ingram led the way with a magnificent 166, his ninth first-class century and his first at the ground for Central Districts, before Tim Weston hit an unbeaten 89 to complete the hatchet job as the overs wound down late in the afternoon.
It marked just the fifth occasion a team have scored in excess of 400 in the fourth innings to win a first-class match in this country since 1863-64.
Victory lifted the Stags points haul through seven rounds to 31, guaranteeing their presence in the final against the State Auckland Aces starting on April 6.
Auckland head the table on 35 points, and a quirk of the draw means the final combatants will meet each other in the closing round of regular season matches in Auckland starting on Sunday.
Ingram, a 30-year-old born in Taranaki country, resumed this morning alongside recalled international Jamie How with Central on 74 without loss.
These two continued to prosper on a ground with invitingly small boundaries and they were not separated until How hit out once too often when he'd reached 93 and the team total stood at 159.
He was caught in the deep by Hamish Bennett off the left-arm spin of young debutant Marty Kain after a knock containing 18 fours off 143 balls.
Ingram forged ahead, adding another 115 with George Worker, who contributed 55, before Canterbury gave themselves a chance by removing him, Mathew Sinclair and Jacob Oram in quick order.
Sinclair pored over an 18-ball duck before seamer Andrew Ellis had his number and Oram was undone by the same bowler for three.
Ingram's vigil, lasting almost 6-1/2 hours, finally ended on 366 when his defences were breached by quick bowler Bennett, after he had helped himself to 20 fours and three sixes.
That left Ingram with a season's aggregate of 767 runs, just seven behind Otago captain Craig Cumming, the competition's leading scorer to date.
Weston was hitting his straps but running out of partners, as Bevan Griggs and Brendon Diamanti came and went cheaply before Ewen Thompson provided Weston the support he needed and deserved.
Thompson chipped in with a run-a-ball 19 before Weston ended the affair with a six over mid wicket, his second six of the innings to complement 10 fours in a telling 104-ball knock.
Day 3: Central 74 without loss in pursuit of 448
The State Canterbury Wizards are in control of the State Championship match after bowling out the State Central Stags for 215 – a massive 278 runs behind.
Wizards pace bowlers Leighton Burtt and Hamish Bennett both had figures of four for 48.
Canterbury then added a further 161 runs before declaring with an overall lead of 447.
Johannes Myburgh, who struck 199 on Saturday, hit and unbeaten 101 today with Michael Papps making 63.
Central have made a solid start to their fourth innings with Jamie How and Peter Ingram putting on 74 for the first wicket. They require a further 374 runs tomorrow to win the match.
Day 1: Central 139 for five, trail Canterbury by 354
The State Canterbury Wizards have piled on 493 in their first innings largely thanks to a 199 from Johannes Myburgh on day two of their State Championship match in Pukekura Park, New Plymouth.
Myburgh hit 21 fours and six sixes before being run-out as he tried to reach his double century.
Michael Mason toiled away for 29 overs and was rewarded with five wickets.
The Central Stags have made a shaky start to their first innings being 55 for thee, rebuilt and then lost a couple of late wickets to be 139 for five before bad light stopped play.
The State Championship MVP leading batsman, Mathew Sinclair, top scored for the Stags with 39.
Hamish Bennett has taken three for 28 of his ten overs.
Day 1 - Canterbury 260 for four against Central
The State Canterbury Wizards have made a steady start after winning the toss and choose to bat against the State Central Stags at Pukekura Park in New Plymouth.
The Wizards opener Todd Astle was dismissed on the fourth ball of the day for a duck but half centuries from Michael Papps (54) and Peter Fulton (64) got the inning back on track.
Johannes Myburgh and Shannan Stewart then combined to put on 138 for the fourth wicket before Stewart was dismissed on 67.
Myburgh continued on to 96 with the team on 290 for four before bad light stopped play in the 85th over. He will resume tomorrow with Iain Robertson at the other end on 4.
Michael Mason picked up two for 53 for the Stags.