Central Stags lost to Northern Districts by six wickets
Lincoln Number 3 Ground, Lincoln
Stags captain Tom Bruce won his third toss in a row in the centralised rounds, going in today with a new opening pair as Plunket Shield captain Greg Hay joined the injury-hit squad to be reunited with George Worker at top of order in the rematch against ND.
But it was a perfect start for Northern, Anurag Verma opening the match with a wicket maiden by removing George Worker - the season's top run-scorer before today - for his second duck of the season.
Worker instantly regretted shouldering arms to the whippy Verma as the ball nipped back into his pads, a big early blow as the Stags looked to back up their first win two days earlier.
They then lost a second wicket inside the first 10 overs when Scott Kuggeleijn knocked out Ben Smith’s middle pole on 23, bringing Bruce to the middle at 32 for two.
There were further setbacks for Stags when Bruce edged a straightforward catch to the slips to give Kuggelelijn his second shortly afterwards, Cleaver joining a dour Greg Hay in the middle.
Cleaver rebuilt with Kieran Noema-Barnett in a 57-stand for the fourth, then Brad Schmulian buzzed his way to a maiden List A half century off just 46 balls in his second appearance in a 115-run stand with Cleaver for the fifth.
They were crucial runs, with Cleaver having reached his century off 95 balls (13 boundaries and one six).
Schmulian finished unbeaten on 61* as the Stags reached 285 for seven for a defendable total on the ground, while Scott Kuggeleijn picked up a useful 3-39.
ND's Tim Seifert and Katene Clarke made a good start to the chase, putting 36 on the board before Seth Rance broke through in the seventh over.
Seifert played sensibly as he looked to consolidate, but was bowled on 29 to become spinner Jayden Lennox's maiden List A and Central Stags wicket.
Having debuted in the opening Palmerston North washout, it was Lennox's first appearance at bowling crease for the Stags but ND was again in a mood to make their rivals work hard for wickets.
A patient, combined team effort had seen ND beat the Stags four days earlier on Bert Sutcliffe Oval and now Dean Brownlie and Joe Carter again loomed as threatening pair through the meat of the chase.
Rance finally had Brownlie caught on 56 at 146/3, then Kieran Noema-Barnett stopped Anton Devcich in his tracks to leave ND needing eight an over in the back 10.
Captain Carter had shared a 62-stand with Brownlie but the clutch partnership was a century-stand for the fifth wicket with Henry Cooper.
With three overs to go they had chiselled the equation down to 14 off 18 finding a boundary or six off each of the preceding handful of overs, and, turning to their spinners and Rance, the Stags needed a dramatic fightback if they were to avoid going down twice in a week to their maroon neighbours.
Carter and Cooper put the foot down, however, and finished unbeaten on 78* at run-a-ball and 77* off just 53 balls respectively in a match-winning unbroken 130*-run partnership.
The two sides will soon meet yet again - in the opening round of Dream 11 Super Smash, a free admission match under lights at McLean Park, Napier on Friday 13 December.