Auckland's bowlers overcame a solid resistance from Canterbury's middle order in a chase of 316 to pick up a 24-run win in a well-fought Plunket Shield match at the Eden Park Outer Oval. Canterbury were 5 for 2 in the face of an opening burst from Auckland's new-ball duo of Benjamin Lister and Matt McEwan. They recovered well through substantial partnerships, starting with a third-wicket stand of 85 between opener Chad Bowes (42) and Leo Carter (63). But Auckland's trio of Danru Ferns, Michael Barry and Glenn Phillips struck at timely intervals to take seven wickets among them and send Canterbury packing for 291.
Carter, Cole McConchie (42), Cam Fletcher (53) and Daniel Sams (33) made solid contributions in the middle order, but none could stay on to haul Canterbury to the finish. Andrew Ellis, their captain, kept Canterbury's fight alive with 19, but Lister had him caught to seal 16 points for Auckland.
With their third successive win of the competition, Auckland are now on third position with 59 points. Canterbury are one place behind but are stuck with one win after five games and have lost their last three matches.
That Canterbury were set a stiff target was down to an electric second-innings century from Phillips - his second in first-class cricket, with Michael Guptill-Bunce (51), Robert O'Donnell (67) and Ben Horne (75) making for a capable support cast. Their efforts helped Auckland bounce back from a first-innings deficit of 30 and pile on 345 at 4.80 an over. Medium-pacer Fraser Sheat dismissed Phillips and finished with 3 for 45 while Daniel Sams, Will Williams and Andrew Ellis struck twice each.
Both teams fared a lot worse in their respective first innings as 18 wickets tumbled on the opening day. Canterbury reduced Auckland to 39 for 4 after electing to bowl on a green pitch, before Mark Chapman's arrival pushed them past 150. He was the ninth man dismissed, for 76 off 72 balls, as Auckland folded for 181. Medium-pacer Sams wrecked Auckland with career-best returns of 4 for 55, while Ellis took 3 for 50.
Like Auckland, Canterbury were struggling, at 81 for 5, and were lifted by a late contribution. And it was Sams who again came to the fore, as he blasted five fours and three sixes on his way to a 51-ball 57. He fell with Canterbury 15 short of Auckland's total, but contributions of 31 from the wicketkeeper Cam Fletcher and 21 from Tim Johnston gave them the lead. Despite the flurry of wickets, 375 runs were scored on the day and Canterbury went to stumps at 194 for 8.
They folded in the ninth over of the second morning for 211 after Matt McEwan cleaned up Johnston for 21, leading a collective effort from Auckland's bowlers with 3 for 49.