An excellent maiden one-day century from Dane Cleaver has brought Central Districts back from the brink of defeat, to atop the Ford Trophy ladder.

Chasing 288 to win against the Otago Volts, the Stags were in dire straits at 36-4, with all their powerful hitters back in the pavilion.

With a required run rate nearing double digits with plenty of overs remaining, Cleaver led the tail order on a storming comeback, with the keeper-batsman carrying his bat for an unbeaten, run-a-ball 124.

10 fours and four sixes were smoked, with Cleaver getting support from the generous confines of Pukekura Park, as well as the CD tail, with Doug Bracewell, Josh Clarkson, Ben Wheeler and Adam Milne all chipping in with quickfire 30s.

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What looked a highly unlikely chase turned into a comfortable three wicket win with three overs to spare, with CD moving to the top of the table.

They sit one point ahead of Northern Districts, who beat Canterbury by 43 runs at Hagley Oval.

ND needed a brutish cameo from Brett Hampton to reach 274, with Hampton bashing 34 off 12 balls, including four straight sixes off spinner Tim Johnston.

English all-rounder Ben Stokes took his first wicket for Canterbury, but had less luck with the bat, being run out after facing one ball.

His partner involved in the miscommunication, Michael Pollard, went on to be Canterbury's main contributor, dragging them back from 79-5 to give the hosts a flicker of hope.

The opener scored his first century in 114 domestic innings, but when he fell for 119, Canterbury's chances disappeared with him, falling short to remain winless.

Canterbury are now the only team without a win, after Wellington claimed a five wicket victory to send Auckland to their first defeat.

An unbeaten 125 from Mark Chapman saw Auckland post 266-7 from 46 rain-affected overs, but Wellington had no problems chasing it down at Eden Park Outer Oval.

A rapid 117 from 91 balls from Stephen Murdoch did the damage, before Devon Conway's unbeaten 24-ball 43 saw them home with five overs to spare.