Stags stagger to Plunket Shield lead

The Stags made it two-from-two at Nelson Park and are the only team with a perfect record through two rounds of the domestic first-class competition.

They didn't make life easy for themselves today, letting the Wizards add another 90 runs from their last two partnerships after resuming at 256 for eight, a lead of just 64 runs.

Brandon Hiini and Logan van Beek put on 83 for the ninth wicket, an aggressive stand which ended when van Beek holed out for 39. Ryan McCone fell for nine, leaving Hiini unbeaten on 44 as the visitors reached a defiant 346.

Needing 155 to win off 76 overs, the Stags started at a rate of knots before first-innings centurion Peter Ingram fell for 10, followed by Brad Patton first ball when the total was 24.

They slumped to 59 for four before the pursuit was steadied by veteran Mathew Sinclair, whose 57 proved decisive.

At 117 for six, former Wizards wicketkeeper Kruger van Wyk and Doug Bracewell kept their nerve and pulled boundary to Bracewell took his side to victory at 156 for six and six points clear of the second-placed Northern Districts through two rounds.

Paceman McCone took four for 64, giving him eight victims in the match, the same number as Stags counterpart Michael Mason.

Day 3: Ellis and Latham stave off Stags

A gritty 90-run sixth-wicket partnership between Andrew Ellis and rookie Tom Latham revived the Canterbury Wizards hopes on the third day of their Plunket Shield cricket match against the Central Stags in Napier today.

However, a late-innings wicket blitz from the Stags meant the Wizards ended the day on 256 for eight to take a slim 64-run lead into the final day tomorrow.

Ellis and New Zealand under-19 wicketkeeper-batsman Latham came together with the dismissal of Dean Brownlie for 25, caught by Mathew Sinclair at first slip off the last ball of Stags captain Jamie How's opening over.

With the Wizards teetering at 155 for five, Latham and Ellis dug deep to frustrate the Stags' hopes of an early finish.

However, Latham became medium pacer Ben Wheeler's third victim as stumps loomed, caught behind for 65 and followed in quick time by Ellis, caught by Stags captain Jamie How off Wheeler for 39.

Todd Astle added only three runs to the Wizards' total, leaving Brandon Hiini and Logan van Beek to

survive the 2-1/2 overs until stumps.

Wheeler, 19, finished the day with 4-37 off 14 overs, while Michael Mason also proved destructive with 2-49 off 20.

The Wizards trailed by 192 runs on the first innings after the Stags were dismissed for 458 early in the first session today.

The Stags' first innings lasted another five overs as they advanced from 440 for nine overnight.

It allowed No 10 Mason to post his highest score in 83 first class matches, advancing to 65 before he was caught behind off leg spinner Todd Astle.

It was Astle's third scalp while pace bowler Ryan McCone finished with four for 88.

Day 2: Openers lead the way for Stags

Jamie How underlined his return to the New Zealand cricket team but it was a former international opening batsman who stole the show as the Central Stags dominated day two of their Plunket Shield cricket match against the Canterbury Wizards at Napier today.

While How hit a controlled 85, his opening partner Peter Ingram struck 140 as the home team moved into a dominant position at Nelson Park, ending the day on 440 for nine and with an overall lead of 174 runs.

How and Ingram resumed today at 104 without loss and continued with minimum fuss through to 167 before How, today recalled to the New Zealand one-day team for the upcoming series in India, fell to legspinner Todd Astle.

Ingram was undeterred, however, and proceeded to register his 13th first-class century. He saw the home team past the Wizards' first innings total of 266 before he was finally dismissed for 140, struck from 270 balls and including 16 fours, one of Ryan McCone's four wickets.

The Wizards did well to limit the damage through the middle order but Stags pace bowler Michael Mason, not known for his ability with the bat, thwarted them late today by blasting an unbeaten 50 from just 41 balls, an innings which included six fours and a six.

Opening bowler McCone was easily the best of the Wizards bowlers, taking four for 74 from 20 overs.

Day 1: Mason central to first-day advantage

Plunket Shield cricket leaders the Central Stags again felt right at home in Napier as they snatched control on the first day against the Canterbury Wizards.

The only team to pick up outright points in the first round -- also at Nelson Park -- the Stags are well-positioned to repeat after skittling the visitors for 266 today.

The venue proved treacherous for batsmen in last week's 243-run hammering of the Wellington Firebirds and it was no different from the outset today as seamer Michael Mason ripped the top off the top of the Wizards' batting lineup, soon after his captain Jamie How won the toss.

The Wizards did well to recover from 25 for three but their total appeared lightweight by stumps as the Stags raced to 104 without loss, with How reaching 59 off just 81 balls and Peter Ingram 44.

That was in stark contrast to the powerful Wizards top-three of Rob Nicol, Michael Papps and Peter Fulton, who all departed cheaply and in an identical manner, caught by Mathew Sinclair at first slip off the clever bowling of Mason.

Sinclair snaffled a fourth victim when he caught Reece Young for 39 off the bowling of Ben Wheeler but by that stage the Wizards had launched a recovery of sorts.

Andy Ellis topscored with 53 while support acts in the middle and lower order were Dean Brownlie, 43, Brandon Hiini, 36, and Todd Astle, 35.

One-test toiler Mason, 36, finished with five for 49 off 21 overs -- the 12th five-wicket bag of a first class career that dates back to 1997.

Medium pacer Kieran Noema-Barnett claimed career-best figures of three for 34.

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