Hay day: a breakthrough maiden ton for Mitch | PHOTOSPORT

Northern exposure at Canterbury's fortress

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Mainpower Oval, Rangiora

16-19 March 2024


Wellington Firebirds: 20

Canterbury: 19

Auckland Aces: 17

Central Stags: 7

Otago Volts: 6

Northern Districts: 3



ND umpire Greg Pennell

Greg Pennell : first-class debut as umpire

Cole McConchie : 10th first-class century (9th for Canterbury)

Sandeep Patel : maiden first-class wicket

Mitch Hay : maiden first-class century

Scott Kuggeleijn : 12th first-class bag (10th for ND)

Michael Rae : 150 first-class wickets (all teams)

Chad Bowes : 3000 first-class runs for Canterbury



Northern Districts could have sewn up the Plunket Shield with a round to spare if they had netted full points in this game, but Canterbury had other plans for them in a slick win at their country estate.

The loss meant ND would take just three measly points with them back to Hamilton as they see-sawed through the back end of the season, and critically, they had sacrificed their championship lead.

The Wellington Firebirds now out in front on that front, in charge after thumping the Volts in Wellington for the maximum 20.

ND had their moments, but Canterbury's careful box-ticking - and Cole McConchie's cool-headed captaincy as he once again led the way at a crucial juncture, won out.


Northern Districts handed a lifeline to the chasing pack on the Plunket Shield points table after securing just one of the four first innings batting points on offer to them in Rangiora.

The full 20 points, starting with the bonuses, across this seventh-round four-dayer would have been enough to bump out the Central Stags, Canterbury and the Otago Volts in one fell swoop, regardless of outcomes in the other matches.

But that trio of chasing teams could breathe slightly easier, for now at least, after Canterbury quickly pushed Northern onto the back foot, after captain Cole McConchie wasted no time (after a half hour ground delay for dew) in sending them in on a brisk morning at Mainpower Oval.

With local allrounder Zak Foulkes (3/54) again getting the Kookaburra to swing around corners, ND found themselves in big early trouble at 72/5.

Returning from the BLACKCAPS Test side and overseas T20 league cricket respectively, Northern was fortunate that Scott Kuggeleijn (65) and Tim Seifert (an aggressive 49) pumped up the lower order to save their side from being bowled out cheaply.


So the leaders rebounded after tea - ultimately reaching a middling total of 235, while all five of the Canterbury attack got themselves in the wicket column.

By stumps, Canterbury was in some early strife of their own at 43/3 — putting a first bowling point in the Northern coffers, and leaving Canterbury to find another 193 runs tomorrow for a first-innings lead, with seven wickets remaining.


Autumn was here, t'was the season of ground delays in the south. But after another delay before play, Canterbury captain Cole McConchie headed back out to the middle to resume his innings on 13*.

An unlucky number for many a cricketer - but every one of that number was a relief to McConchie who was coming in off a rare king pair in his previous game.

Now, it was Carter who needed to get off the mark, not him.

The pair went about their business efficiently before the first wicket of the morning stopped Carter on just 16, guiding Kuggeleijn's sharp, angled bounce into the slips. Keeper-batter Mitch Hay wandered out to join McConchie at 72/4 in the 25th.

The picture of that pair in the middle stayed on pause for the next 305 deliveries.

Together, they wore the Northern attack down as they ground out a 159-run fifth wicket stand that crucially hauled the match back in Canterbury's favour.


McConchie became the first player in New Zealand first-class history to score a century after having registered a dreaded "king pair" (two golden ducks) in his previous match. Phew, indeed.

He reached 106 before Northern finally had the breakthrough - seamer Sandeep Patel (1/25) getting a special maiden wicket as he clean-bowled the skipper. But his side, by then, had been desperate.


Hay's unbeaten maiden 145* would ultimately headline the home team's innings in a breakthrough knock from the talented player.

Not only did he share in a century partnership with McConchie, he kept going and built another one for the sixth wicket - putting on a further 129 with the experienced rearguard allrounder Rippon.

Canterbury would reach 359/5 in 114 overs by stumps on the second day with both in command, holding 124-run first-innings lead.


After another short ground delay, Hay resumed on 145* with Rippon on 55* at Mainpower Oval, their partnership looking sound and Canterbury looking to build on 359/5.


The hosts were in a good position, with five wickets in hand and time enough to dictate terms.

With the Firebirds breathing down their neck on the table, Northern meanwhile faced a big job to rescue their chances in this game - and in Napier, defending champions the Central Stags had meanwhile banked six of the eight first innings points so far against the Auckland Aces to hold their position in third, still in the frame.

Cue a clump of early wickets in the first two overs of the morning, as the paceman relished the enlivened conditions.

Kuggeleijn struck first, almost immediately shattering the overnight 129-run sixth-wicket partnership between Rippon and Hay.


Rippon was his victim - but Hay soon followed him back to the pavilion as Kristian Clarke followed up with a double wicket maiden.

Hay had been caught behind on his career-best 146 after he guided a bottom edge through to the keeper. Gus McKenzie was ripping off his pads just a few minutes later, for no score.

Zak Foulkes and Sean Davey started churning over some runs again in a brief stand that got Canterbury some extra 28 runs in quick time, but Kuggeleijn soon had the last two wickets to wrap up a bag - and the innings - in another strong all-round performance.


He finished with 6/79 from his 31.1 overs of toil: how quickly fortune turns around in red-ball cricket.

All out for 398, Canterbury missed out on a fourth batting bonus, but they had a decent first innings lead of 163 to console them. Then, Michael Rae got an early one - Henry Cooper - to console them even more.

ND would head into the last day at 235/6 in their second innings, leading Canterbury by 72 overall, but with just four wickets in hand.


Tim Seifert had departed shortly before stumps, soon after having reached his half century (51) - becoming hard-working Michael Rae's 150th first-class victim in the process.

There was tension in the air, now, as the session drew to a close. The Northern lower order needed to fire to stave off Canterbury in a crucial match.

After having top-scored with 65 for his side in the first innings - and then taken his 12th first-class five-wicket haul, genuine allrounder Kuggeleijn was the key man, for the visitors.

He headed back in unbeaten on 29*, alongside a recognised batter Sandeep Patel - who had scored a century in just his second first-class match, earlier this season and was now lurking down the order.

But Canterbury would sleep easier, knowing just one or two good shouts would give them control.


It was a satisfying victory, and yet a phyrric one, for Canterbury.

They formally dropped out of the running for this year's Plunket Shield - while their defeated opponent remained one of the last two teams standing.

The Plunket Shield would now be heading to either Hamilton or Wellington in just over a week’s time after the final showdown at Seddon Park between ND and the Firebirds, who had meanwhile snatched an innings victory in Wellington with a day to spare to leap ahead of ND to the top of the table.

On the final day in Rangiora, Canterbury - last summer's runner-up - made fairly short work of their immediate task, finishing off their comfortable win over ND with a session to spare.


A cracking unbeaten 87* off 69 balls from opener Chad Bowes was all it took, even as Northern's attack kept challenging his teammates and taking five of their wickets.

Having needed just 136 to win, Bowes's accomplices contributed only 43 of those runs, while the Northern collective ripped out cheap wickets to send nerves zapping through the Canterbury spine.

Brett Hampton got one straight through Henry Nicholls' defences at 60/1, Nicholls trotting off for 19 after Bowes had dominated the opening stand, caning Kristian Clarke early.

Soon afterwards, Matt Fisher had scoreless Rhys Mariu caught and bowled after a clever set-up.

McConchie followed up his king pair-century sequence with just a three off 10 balls, Kuggeleijn knocking over his leg stump at 84/3.

Notice was officially served that this wasn't going to be a straightforward knockout punch from the red corner when Carter was brilliantly caught a few overs later, also for no score - Bharat Popli scooping up a one-hander as he flug himself in front of first slip.

That was Hampton's second, and ND wasn't done fighting.

Spinner Joe Walker trapped Hay plumb for just one. But now, Canterbury only needed 24 more for the win, with an ocean of time.


Bowes was in control, and had someone stay with him to see it home - Rippon finishing unbeaten on 16* before Bowes swept the golden-arm spinner of the last match, Henry Cooper, for the winning boundary.

Canterbury now head away for their last match of 2023/24, a season in which they lifted The Ford Trophy and finished second in the Dream11 Super Smash Final, to a dead rubber in Auckland.

The Stags will be hosting the Otago Volts in another dead rubber in Napier, from Sunday 24 to Wednesday 27 March, while Northern looks to bounce back - if they are to break their lengthy Plunket Shield drought in the big game in Hamilton, with free admission at all games and livescoring and free livestreams at www.nzc.nz

POINTS TABLE after 7 of 8 championship rounds






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