A Henry Cooper half-century was in vain as Northern Districts fell nine runs short of a Plunket Shield victory over Canterbury.

Northern Districts needed 245 for victory after a strong day three performance in the field wrestled control of the match back from Canterbury in Rangiora.

Northland's Cooper, who managed just seven in the first innings, joined captain Daniel Flynn in the middle to open the chase but that partnership didn't last long as the latter was caught in the slips for eight.

This brought Bharat Popli to the crease and him and Cooper quietly worked away at whittling down the target.

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The pair put on 80 for the second wicket as they set a platform.

Popli went for 42 but Cooper kept battling away in a responsible knock, punishing the bad balls and looking resolute on the good ones.

The experience of Dean Brownlie lasted all of four balls as he became one of left-arm chinaman Blake Coburn's victims.

Wicketkeeper Tim Seifert joined Cooper at the crease as the Northlander reached his second domestic half century, reaching the milestone in 121 balls.

Unfortunately his three-hour long innings ended shortly after as Will Williams had him caught behind for 52. The innings included eight boundaries.

What followed Cooper's dismissal was one of the most exciting finishes in recent Plunket Shield history.

Anton Devcich couldn't match his first innings century to be out for just three, bringing Scott Kuggeleijn to the crease.

Seifert and Kuggeleijn inched Northern Districts closer to victory, partnering for 42 runs.

Seifert departed for 47 as he became Coburn's fourth wicket before Joe Walker came to the crease.

He and Kuggeleijn looked like they were going to bring Northern Districts home but there was another twist in the tale.

Coburn took the key wicket of Kuggeleijn (35) who picked out the boundary fielder. This brought Northland's Brett Randell to the wicket but that didn't last long as Coburn had him trapped in front second ball to complete his five wicket bag.

Jimmy Baker came out and was instantly on his way as Coburn grabbed his sixth after a great catch from Chad Bowes.

This left Northern Districts needing 40 runs from the last wicket pairing of Walker and Brent Arnel.

The pair crept towards the target, putting away rare bad balls from Coburn and Tim Johnston.

They got the target down to nine before Coburn dealt the killer blow, trapping Arnel in front for 16 to give Canterbury the eight run victory.

Walker was left stranded on 18. Coburn finished with figures of seven for 64.