Cricket: Stags stay on top

The Central Stags have held on to their lead at the top of the Plunket Shield with one round to go following their four-wicket win over Canterbury in Rangiora today.

Needing 256 for victory, CD started the morning on 156-3 and although they lost Mathew Sinclair for 53, Kruger van Wyk made an unbeaten 29 to see them home, while Kieran Noema-Barnett added a brisk 18.

Matt McEwan took three wickets for Canterbury after picking up two in the first innings to return match figures of 5-115.

Central's win left them nine points clear of Otago at the top of the standings.

Otago recorded an impressive victory of their own as they only needed one ball to hit their required target of four to register a 10-wicket win over Auckland at the University Oval in Dunedin.

Otago's whopping 569-8 declared in their first innings set up the win and Auckland fought admirably in their second dig and managed 351 but it only left the home side needing four runs to win.

Aaron Redmond needed no second invitation to hit the winning runs and he dispatched the first Colin de Grandhomme delivery to the fence and the game was over.

The comprehensive win meant Otago kept pace on the Plunket Shield standings in second place but would likely need Central to lose in their final game against Northern Districts next week then pick up a victory over Wellington in their last outing to make a charge at the title.

At the Cobham Oval in Whangarei, Northern Districts beat Wellington by five wickets but due to Otago and Central also winning they only consolidated their hold on third place rather than climb up the standings.

Northern needed 148 for victory today and began the morning on 3-0 and after losing a couple of early wickets, No 4 Daryl Mitchell made an unbeaten 51 to guide them to victory.

Mitchell's knock backed up his first-innings effort of 136, while he also had useful support from youngster Corey Anderson who added a valuable 35.

Wellington seamer Mark Gillespie picked up 3-44 to give Black Caps coach Mike Hesson another reminder of what he can do in the longer form of the game as the test series against England approaches.

The final round of matches gets underway on Wednesday.

- APNZ

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