Wellington Firebirds broke their duck in the Men's One-Day competition today, closing out a tense six-run victory against Northern Knights after James Marshall's valiant rearguard action failed narrowly at Whangarei.
While their skipper was remained in the middle of Cobham Oval, Northern could envisage maintaining their unbeaten record and outright competition lead after three rounds.
However, when Grant Elliott had Marshall caught by Australian import Stewart Rhodes 17 runs shy of the 245-run victory target, the momentum swung Wellington's way.
Marshall's aggressive 64 from 48 balls, launched when Northern Districts were teetering at 137 for five in the 37th over, revived a run chase bogged down by the accuracy and penetration of spinners current and former Twenty20 internationals Luke Woodcock and Jeetan Patel.
Woodcock took three for 31 from 10 overs, Patel one for 44 from his maximum as the slow bowlers applied the brakes and made regular inroads.
Woodcock removed dangerman BJ Watling for 61 from 106 balls after he had shared a 97-run partnership for the third wicket with Scott Styris - another notable casualty on 54 when he also found Rhodes' safe hands.
Former BLACKCAP Mark Gillespie proved pace also had a part to play as he took an encouraging three for 46 from 10 overs before Northern were dismissed for 238 with one ball remaining.
Meanwhile, New South Welshman Rhodes also proved his worth with the blade, knuckling down to produce 63 from 99 balls to compensate for the early loss of Josh Brodie.
Rhodes and Neal Parlane added 105 for the second wicket, a solid foundation that enabled Woodcock to start his fine all round performance with a rapid 50 from 49 balls.
Styris was the pick of the bowlers as Wellington posted 244 for five - 10 overs of nagging medium pace surrendered just 27 runs.