Stags stay in hunt for finals berth

13 January 2018 20:00:10 GMTPlus11

Central Stags ensured they will be in a three-way battle for the last Super Smash finals spot by beating Wellington Firebirds.

The Stags won by 56 runs at New Plymouth's Pukekura Park against the defending champions, and could now also pip them for a finals berth.

It will all come down to Sunday's final round to determine who finishes third, with Canterbury and Central Stags currently on 18 points and the Firebirds two points further back.

Canterbury have a tough game away to Northern Knights in Hamilton, while the other two contenders will meet again at the Basin Reserve.

The Northern Knights and Auckland Aces are already assured of places in the three-team finals.

Leading Super Smash bowler Blair Tickner picked up another two scalps in the Stags victory to leave him with 16 wickets for the season, while Seth Rance and left-arm spinner Ajaz Patel also two wickets apiece to cement victory.

Central set Wellington 210 to win, but aside from Tom Blundell (53 off 41 balls) the top order bats failed to blaze for the Firebirds.

An 84-run sixth wicket stand between Dane Cleaver (43 not out off 25) and Ben Wheeler (47 off 22) got the Stags through to over the 200-mark, after they had got the wobbles in the middle stage of their innings.

Black Caps T20 batsman Tom Bruce and skipper Will Young steadied the ship after George Worker and Jesse Ryder departed early, adding 69 for the third wicket.

Bruce belted five sixes and four fours in his 59 from 29 balls, while Young made 37 from 23.

Wellington slumped to 49-3 in reply and when Blundell departed their hopes were all but dashed despite South African Devon Conway blasting 49 off 34.

Northern Knights areĀ 1.40 to beat Canterbury Kings, who are 3.00.

The Stags areĀ 2.10 to win their clash with Wellington, who are 1.72.

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