May the best team win | PHOTOSPORT

Plunket Shield to be decided in Hamilton


Just two teams remain contenders for the coveted national first-class Plunket Shield — and they’ll be playing each other for the title in Hamilton from this Sunday, in their final four-dayer of the NZC Domestic season.

The Wellington Firebirds will take a seven-point head start over Northern Districts in Hamilton, with Northern now back in second place after having been beaten by Canterbury this afternoon in Rangiora.

Meanwhile, the Firebirds snatched an innings victory with a day to spare yesterday to reclaim the championship lead at the business end of the summer.

Northern is hungry to lift the 118-year-old trophy that they haven’t touched since the summer of 2012, meanwhile the Firebirds last won the Plunket Shield in 2019/20.

Defending champion the Central Stags dropped out of the running with a thud to the Auckland Aces this afternoon in Napier — the 41-run victory having been the bottom-of-the-table Aucklanders’ first win all season in the red-ball format.

On a nerve-wrackingly rain-interrupted final day at McLean Park, the Stags had needed an outright victory to remain an outside chance to defend the trophy, and set out this morning needing a second innings of just 182, after having taken the Aces' final four wickets in the first hour of play.

Jordan Sussex got a maiden bag at McLean Park | MBUTCHER

But Jordan Sussex and Ben Lister rattled through their line-up, with professional physiotherapist Sussex — playing in just his second match (after an interval of two years) claiming his maiden five-wicket bag.

The Stags made the job tough for themselves when they lost their last two recognised batters in quick succession.

Doug Bracewell was bowled by left-armer Lister when they had still needed 57 to win, then set batsman Dane Cleaver gave Sussex his maiden bag just four balls later — exposing the tail.

Sussex finished with a fine haul 6/46, and eight for the match, with his only previous appearance also having been against the Stags at this same ground in April 2022.

Despite having comfortably defeated Northern Districts by five wickets in Rangiora today thanks to a cracking unbeaten 87* off 69 balls from opener Chad Bowes, last year’s runner-up Canterbury is also now out of the running.


The Plunket Shield will be heading to either Hamilton or Wellington in just over a week’s time. Each team will be able to accrue up to eight first innings points from their final match, with a further 12 points on offer for an outright victory.

All eyes will be on Seddon Park, meanwhile the Auckland Aces will be hosting Canterbury in a dead rubber in Auckland, and the Stags will be hosting the Otago Volts in another dead rubber in Napier, from Sunday 24 to Wednesday 27 March - with free admission at all games and livescoring and free livestreams at

Saturday 16 to Tuesday 19 March, 2024

Scorecard links:

POINTS after 7 of 8 rounds
(maximum  of 20 points per round)
Wellington Firebirds 87
Northern Districts 83
Canterbury 67
Central Stags 65
Otago Volts 49
Auckland Aces 46


10.30am, Sunday 24 to Wednesday 27 March, 2024

FREE admission







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