The Kings had been keen to bat first so were happy to be sent in by opposing captain Craig Cachopa, but they soon found themselves in trouble after the top five all struggled to get going on a tacky deck, none of them registering a score higher than 11 on the hot, humid summer afternoon.
At 33 for five, Aces supporters may have been anticipating a short game, but Kings captain Andrew Ellis knuckled down with Cam Fletcher to find the pace of the wicket.
They put on an invaluable 87-run stand that gave their side a chance — before Ronnie Hira swept in and put himself on a hat-trick with the wickets of Ellis (4) and Tim Johnston.
Fletcher remained and was in sight of his half century before Hira (4-26) struck again, this time running him out for 46.
Left-arm spinner Hira was superb with the ball, the Kings’ batsmen with no answer to his nagging line and length.
Ben Lister was particularly miserly with figures of 1-17 from his four overs while Sam Curran, Donovan Grobbelaar and Colin de Grandhomme all chipped in with a wicket each, although de Grandhomme suffered the ignominy of being no-balled out of the attack after losing his rhythm, his last over completed by Sean Solia.
Against a disciplined attack the Kings had done well to recover and bat out their overs, reaching 145 for nine, but the wise old owls of Eden Park Outer Oval were still shaking their head at half-time: not enough.
However, Kyle Jamieson then gave the Kings a brilliant start with the ball, removing Glenn Phillips for a first-over duck.
When he claimed the Aces’ other opener Sean Solia as well, the Aces were three big wickets down for just 51, Cole McConchie having already rejoiced in picking up this season’s run machine Mark Chapman who was stumped after galloping to 23 off just nine rocks.
It was middle order men Cachopa (41) and Robbie O’Donnell (55) who stopped the bowlers’ purple patch and ensured a lowish chase didn’t get away on them.
When Cachopa departed with fewer than 20 more runs required, the Aces stumbled slightly, but the result was never really in doubt, Donovan Grobbelaar sealing the win with a towering six over midwicket and the Aces living to fight another day for hosting rights to the big one, with a couple of overs to spare.
The Aces are now at least assured of a Finals Series spot, and now wait at Eden Park Outer Oval for their final regular season match against the Otago Volts on Super Sunday; the Kings meanwhile face a big match against competition leaders the Knights in Hamilton on the same day.