Ross Taylor's cricketing comeback hit a speed-bump, with the former Black Caps skipper failing to fire for Central Districts on the first day of their Plunket Shield clash against Auckland.
Taylor made 21 in Central's first innings of 233 at the Eden Park Outer Oval before being trapped in front by Auckland all-rounder Colin de Grandhomme.
Taylor was charged with leading a fightback, after Central lost their first three wickets for just 41 runs.
But he and ex-international Mathew Sinclair (16) did little of note at the crease - and both were by the time the Stags made it two 72.
Middle order slugger Kieran Noema-Barnett did his best to hold his side's middle order together - notching a quickfire 67 of just 66 balls.
The entertaining innings featured 11 fours and a six and saw him combine with former test keeper Kruger van Wyk to add 64 for the sixth wicket.
Yet the support wasn't there at the either end, and top notch seam bowling by Auckland veterans Chris Martin and Michael Bates saw Central staggering at 176 for 9.
Tailenders Tarun Nethula (25 not out) and Kyle Jarvis added a plucky 57 for the last wicket, with No 11 Jarvis in rare form with the bat - slashing eight boundaries before being caught by Craig Cachopa for 45.
Bates was the pick of the Auckland bowlers, snaring 4 for 44 off his 9.3 overs, while Black Caps seamer Chris Martin claimed 3 for 67 off his 16.
Young seamer Matt Quinn struggled for the hosts, getting blasted for 76 runs off his 12 overs, and picking up just one wicket.
Auckland finished 142 for 3 in reply to Central at stumps, with Craig Cachopa (46) and Gareth Hopkins (10) at the crease.
Promising right-arm seamer Bevan Small was the most threatening of the visitors bowlers towards the end of the first day, taking 2 for 21 in a tidy 7 overs.
Former internationals Tim McIntosh and Reece Young both fell to Small - with Taylor taking a sharp catch at first slip to dismiss McIntosh.
- © Fairfax NZ News
Is cricket still NZ's top summer sport?Related story: Rain can't save Black Caps from big defeat