Another fine knock from Daryl Mitchell wasn't enough to help the Northern Knights halt the Central Stags draw closer to clinching the Plunket Shield in Nelson today.
Mitchell, fresh off a match double of a century and unbeaten half-century in the previous round against the Wellington Firebirds in Whangarei, made 72 as the SkyCity Knights tallied just 267 after being put in to bat on day one of their final round four-day clash.
At stumps, the competition-leading Stags had reached 46 without loss in 11 overs.
In dismissing the visitors to Saxton Oval in 85.4 overs, the Stags grabbed the maximum four first innings bowling points to edge them closer to grabbing the first-class crown that the Knights captured last season.
Central began the 10th and final round match leading their only challengers for the title, the Otago Volts, by nine points, with a maximum of 20 points available to a winning side. Otago however ensured they should stay in contention until the final day of the Shield season by also grabbing four bowling points by rolling Wellington for 255 in the capital and then racing to 133-2 at stumps.
Mitchell's patient knock, coming off 153 balls in 244 minutes and featuring five fours, again came after the Knights' top-order had failed.
The No 4 batsman came in with the visitors at 38-2 and while he found some middle order support from Corey Anderson (27 off 38 balls). James Marshall (54 off 81 deliveries) and debutant wicketkeeper Cameron Fletcher (34 from 79 balls), the Knights again failed to make an imposing first innings tally, losing their last three wickets without adding a run.
The Knights are guaranteed third spot in the Shield, and will start their Ford Trophy one-day campaign on Tuesday against the Stags in Nelson.