Next stop: top of the table clash | PHOTOSPORT

Down to the wire at Hagley Oval

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Hagley Oval, Christchurch



Selected milestones

Michael Rippon : 100th List A career appearance

Michael Rae : List A debut for Canterbury (previously Otago Volts)

Chad Bowes : 3,000 List A career runs

Chad Bowes : 50 List A career catches

Robbie O'Donnell : 2,000 List A runs for Auckland Aces

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In the only Ford Trophy third-round match to get underway, hosts Canterbury and the Auckland Aces fought almost to the bitter end for the four valuable points.

In a snapping wind, with sun for the most part blessing the game while the other four teams in the competition packed up their kit in the rain, Canterbury captain Cole McConchie won the toss and elected to bat first.

His team set the Aces a target of 251, after finishing their own innings at 250/7 by stringing together partnerships.

McConchie (51) and Michael Rippon - who top-scored with an unbeaten 67* in his 100thList A match, shared a 96-run stand for the fifth wicket as the Aces' attack fought to constrain them to running singles at the death in a match that would turn out to be a pretty even contest between the two sides.

Fierce paceman Will O'Rourke removed Aces dangerman Finn Allen, caught on the boundary after a quick 39, at 58/2 in the chase, and the Aces were in early trouble, four down by the 20-over mark.

But Robbie O'Donnell (70) and Cam Fletcher (an unbeaten 68*) steadied the ship against Fletcher's old team, until Fletcher and Ryan Harrison were left with a run-a-ball chase in the death overs to get across the line.

Canterbury did not make it easy for either of them, with scares survived.

But a lofted six off the last ball of the penultimate over was ultimately all it took for Fletcher to pocket the four points for his team.

Champions for three of the past six seasons, they were valuable points for the Auckland Aces that catapulted them from second-to-last to second-to-top on the national men's one-day table with the other four teams becalmed.

The Aces now trail unbeaten ND by just three points, with a chance of overtaking them in Thursday's fourth round, top of the table clash in Whangārei that will also see the Central Stags host the Otago Volts in New Plymouth, and the Wellington Firebirds up against Canterbury at the Cello Basin Reserve, all free admission from 10.30 a.m.






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