A century from Peter Fulton has strengthened Canterbury's grip on the Plunket Shield after the opening day of the penultimate round.

Fulton hit his 19th first-class century, reaching 110 to lead Canterbury to 297-6 at stumps against Central Districts.

Canterbury hold a 19 point lead atop the ladder, and can potentially wrap up the title with an outright win; a goal which their batsmen are putting them in a decent position to accomplish.

Fulton's knock was supplemented by 53 from opener Chad Bowes and 70 from Cole McConchie, though Adam Milne kept Central Districts in touch with 3-36.


Canterbury are in line for four first innings bonus points if they can reach 350, and those points may prove pivotal if the sides chasing them cannot manufacture outright victories.

Their main threat in the chasing pack is Auckland, who sit in second spot on the table and had an even first day's play against Otago.

Two wickets apiece to Lockie Ferguson, Tarun Nethula and the returning Colin Munro were counter-balanced by a consistent effort from the Otago batsmen, with five players making 30. Derek De Boorder's 50 and an unbeaten 46 from Sam Wells were the main contributors as Otago recovered from 97-4 to reach 266-7 at stumps.

Northern Districts and Wellington are the only other sides with a glimmer of hope of claiming the title, and ND took the upper hand when the two sides began their clash at Bay Oval.

Wellington won the toss and decided to bat, but came to rue that decision when ND ripped through them for 151.

Spinner Joe Walker took his maiden first-class five-wicket bag with 5-46, while Ish Sodhi chimed in with 2-49 as the spin duo bowled 53 of the innings' 83 overs. Debutant Brett Randell took two wickets, including the scalp of Luke Ronchi for a golden duck, and Corey Anderson sent down four overs as he ramps up his bowling workload.

Wellington were paced by Fraser Colson's patient 66 from 214 balls, and claimed the wicket of Henry Cooper to reduce ND to 11-1 at stumps.