Former Northland Black Cap James Marshall's heroics during Northern Districts' final Plunket Shield match was only enough for his team to secure a draw.
Kaipara Flats' Marshall scored 210 runs with the bat, 54 in the first innings and 156 not out in the second, and took one wicket for two runs, against eventual Plunket Shield victors Central Districts to help drag their match into the final day.
In response to Northern's below-par 267, Central scored a hearty 418, leaving Northern in desperate need of a substantial second innings on Friday to avoid losing outright.
Marshall's 156 not out was the mainstay of Northern's second innings after his side's top order, which includes fellow Northlanders Joey Yovich (0) and Brad Wilson (28), were all rolled cheaply. Marshall combined with recent Black Cap debutant Corey Anderson (89), in a partnership worth 155 runs, as Northern declared on 435.
It meant Central needed 285 for an outright victory on the final day. However, because second-placed Otago lost their match to Wellington, the result of Central's match didn't matter and Central Districts could celebrate as they pulled stumps at 116-2 with Jamie How unbeaten on 84.
"We've played some great cricket all year and we got what we were after," Central coach Alan Hunt said.
"We've just got a group of guys who are suited to four-day cricket at the moment. We've gone through a bit of a development phase with some of the players and I think we are more suited to this longer form having obviously struggled in the HRV Cup. But this is a tough competition over 40 days and to win this is a great performance."
Canterbury beat Auckland by nine wickets on Friday to leave Auckland with the wooden spoon.
The 50-over competition gets under way tomorrow.