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Plunket Shield going down to the wire

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 23/03/2017

The Plunket Shield will be decided in the 10th and final round after leaders Canterbury failed to force victory over a Jesse Ryder-inspired Central Districts in Nelson.

Victory would have handed Canterbury the first class title with a round to spare.

Instead they lost by four wickets at Saxton Oval, opening the door for second-placed Auckland or third-placed Northern Districts to sneak the honours next week after picking up outright wins.

Canterbury declared their second innings closed on their overnight 273-8, leaving the home side with a winning target of 347.

Unwanted Black Caps international Ryder brought a modest summer to life with an unbeaten 109 as Central Districts reached 349-6 late on the final day.

Canterbury legspinner Todd Astle took 4-96, ending a crucial fourth-wicket stand of 82 between Ryder and George Worker (53) which nevertheless set the hosts up for their first win of the campaign.

Canterbury will host Wellington at Hagley Oval in the final round starting on Wednesday.

They are eight points ahead of Auckland, who face Central Districts in Napier. Northern Districts are 14 points off the lead ahead of their showdown with last-placed Otago in Dunedin.

Northern Districts thumped Wellington by nine wickets in Mount Maunganui, having dismissed the visitors for 151 and 269.

Wellington skipper Michael Papps struck a defiant 160 in the second innings, his 31st first class ton, but none of his team-mates passed 30.

The home side notched victory when they reached 162-1 in the second innings, with Dean Brownlie (76 not out) and Bharat Popli (75 not out) largely untroubled.

Auckland's win was wrapped inside three days, completing their eight-wicket rout of Otago in Dunedin on Thursday.

Paceman Lockie Ferguson claimed eight victims in the match although he injured himself in the process, ruling him out of contention for a Test call-up to face South Africa.

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