Northern Districts have cruised to a six-wicket Twenty20 win over Auckland in a top-of-the-table Super Smash clash at Eden Park Outer Oval yesterday evening.
The competition leaders rarely looked pressured in chasing down Auckland's 202-5 with 19 balls to spare, recording their sixth win in nine games and securing their spot in the play-offs.
ND now lead second-placed Auckland by six points, with Canterbury third on 18, two points clear of Wellington.
Allrounder Anton Devcich's 76 off 37 balls set up the win for Northern after they lost Tim Seifert (two) and Dean Brownlie (12) early, both caught and bowled by Ronnie Hira inside the first five overs.
The loss of Brett Hampton without scoring meant Daryl Mitchell (50 off 22) joined Daniel Flynn (58 off 30) in the 11th over, the pair always looking comfortable in guiding ND home.
Sent in after losing the toss, Auckland built partnerships early but lost 4-31 in the middle stages to teeter at 129-5 at the end of the 13th over.
Mark Chapman's 57 off 30 balls led the way, but it was a 43-ball unbeaten stand for the sixth wicket between Robbie O'Donnell and young English import Sam Curran which pushed their total over 200.
O'Donnell's 21 off 21 played the perfect foil for Curran's 48 off 25, giving Auckland a tally that looked close to defendable.
The Auckland innings also featured the return of Colin de Grandhomme, back from bereavement leave in Zimbabwe following his father's death.
The Black Caps all-rounder was run out for five, then bowled one over conceding 11 runs.