Luke Woodcock's 98 and a half-century from captain Michael Papps helped Wellington chase down 275 with six wickets to spare for their opening win in the 2016-17 season of the Plunket Shield against defending champions Auckland. With his 57 in the second innings, Papps became the first player to score 10,000 runs in New Zealand's first-class competition. Papps had registered 10,000 overall first-class runs in 2014-15, the 25th New Zealand batsman to do so.
"It is a bit of a milestone for all players and when you play for a long time it is something you aspire to and it's nice to tick that off, since only 25 New Zealanders have done it," Papps said after the game. "I think the first to get to 10,000 Plunket Shield runs is a special thing, too. It's obviously a prestigious competition and it's been going on for a long time now. And to be the first person to get to 10,000 is a real honour."
Woodcock and Papps' efforts, and their opening partnership of 106, ensured a comfortable chase for Wellington. Woodcock took the lead, scoring 11 fours and a six in his 235 ball-knock, falling two runs short of a century with the target only 10 runs away.
Another key player for Wellington was seamer Brent Arnel, who had match returns of 8 for 104, with four-fors in both innings. Arnel carved out Auckland's middle order in the first innings, after they had opted to bat, taking four wickets to reduce them to 173 for 7 from 151 for 3, after which they were bowled out for 269. In the second innings, he paired with Jeetan Patel, who took 4 for 76, to ensure that Auckland's score was limited to 278, leaving Wellington with 275 to win.
Wellington had managed a first-innings lead of four runs, their first innings score of 273 propped up solely by Stephen Murdoch's 109 and Tom Blundell's supporting 42. Auckland's fast bowler Lachie Ferguson took the only five-for of the match, which included Murdoch's wicket.
Auckland were let down by their batsmen in both innings. In the first, openers Michael Guptill-Bunce (50) and Jeet Raval (47) gave the side a good start but the middle order failed to build on that. They reached 269 thanks to a tenth-wicket partnership of 70 runs between Dane Hutchinson (48) and Ferguson. The lower order rescued Auckland again in the second innings as the last three wickets added 121 runs to lift them from 157 for 7. Hutchinson (38) was a key contributor, along with Tarun Nethula (39) and Donovan Grobbelaar (40).
Scott Kuggeleijn's career-best 6 for 60 proved decisive in Northern Districts' five-wicket win over Canterbury. Kuggeleijn's six-for skittled Canterbury out for 165 in the second innings, leaving Northern Districts with a target of 196, which they achieved on the fourth day in Christchurch. It also helped him finish with a career-best match haul of 9 for 190.
Todd Astle's 195 had led Canterbury's recovery in the first innings, helping them post 445 after they were struggling at 60 for 4 at one stage. Tim Johnston (66) and Kyle Jamieson (40) supported Astle's effort at No. 8 and 9 respectively. Kuggeleijn took 3 for 130 while seamers James Baker and Zac Gibson took two wickets each.
Northern Districts fell 30 runs short of Canterbury's total, following a middle-order slump that somewhat negated the 174-run opening stand between Daniel Flynn and Dean Brownlie, who scored 104. Northern Districts lost five wickets for 58 runs in the middle stages, reaching 248 for 6, before the lower order rallied around captain Tim Seifert (81) and pushed the score past 400.
Kuggeleijn then struck twice on the third evening to leave Canterbury at 93 for 4 at stumps, and came back on the fourth morning to plough his way through the lower order. He plucked four of the last five Canterbury wickets, including two in the 41st over, to end their innings ten overs into the final day. Northern Districts lost a few wickets in their chase but were eventually shepherded by Daryl Mitchell's unbeaten 51.
Otago captain Brad Wilson struck a century in each innings in a high-scoring draw against Central Districts. Wilson was the first batsman to do so for Otago since Aaron Redmond's twin centuries against Canterbury in the 2012-13 season.
Wilson's 111 and 117 not out were complemented by his opening partner Hamish Rutherford's knocks of 143 and 73. The pair added 227 runs in the first innings to set up Otago's total of 479 for 5 declared, with contributions from Neil Broom (93) and Josh Finnie (56).
Central Districts responded with a score of 365 for 5 declared, built on opener Greg Hay's 136 and half-centuries from Mitch Renwick (57) and Tom Bruce (78). Otago then stretched their 114-run lead to 352 by stumps on the fourth day, scoring 238 for 2 in the second innings, after Rutherford and Wilson had added 133 in their opening stand.