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Wellington Firebirds hang on to their lead in Ford Trophy

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The Wellington Firebirds have kept their slender grip on top of the 2018/19 Ford Trophy points table after another impressive win at the Basin Reserve today.

Despite having been sent in, and in spite of some gallant tailend batting from Northern Districts in a gutsy chase, the Firebirds defeated ND by 39 runs to maintain a one-point margin over the Auckland Aces.

The result was a particular disappointment for Northern Districts veteran off-spinning allrounder Anton Devcich who, remarkably, took his first five-wicket bag for ND in any format - after 57 one-day games, 51 first-class games and 84 T20s for the team. Devcich clinched his five-for in the nick of time with the final ball of the first innings.

Wellington Firebirds batting sensation Andrew Fletcher (64) meanwhile added another half century to his list of scores in his debut season and now has 357 runs from his first four matches, at an average of 119 to lead this season's run-scoring aggregates.

At Eden Park Outer Oval, defending champions the Auckland Aces found themselves heading into a last-over nailbiter for the third time in four matches this season, but came up trumps with a tight three-run victory over Canterbury to maintain second place on the table.

Aces captain Craig Cachopa (106 off 122) led the way in the first innings with a mature century, his third in List A (one day) cricket, with useful support from debutant Will O'Donnell (48 off 66) - who had replaced his brother Robbie in the team for this match. The pair shared a 130-run stand for the fourth wicket, just nine runs short of the record between the two sides set by BLACKCAPS Mark Chapman and Colin Munro at the same ground last season.

Both the Aces and Firebirds have now collected three wins from the first four rounds. Canterbury meanwhile lost the services of batsman Ken McClure with a concussion stand-down after he was struck in the helmet by Mitch McClenaghan.

At Dunedin's University of Otago Oval, rain saw a stop-start Otago Volts-Central Stags encounter reduced first to 40 and then 32 overs per side, the Volts ultimately taking a revenge win over the Stags who fell 16 runs shy of their DLS revised target of 211. The win lifted the Volts into fourth on the table.

ROUND FIVE of The Ford Trophy takes place this Wednesday 7 November with a top-of-the-table clash between the Firebirds and Aces at the Basin Reserve; Northern Districts hosting the Central Stags at Hamilton's Seddon Park, and the Volts remaining at Dunedin's University of Otago Oval in a big match against Canterbury.