Mark Chapman | Images: PHOTOSPORT

Aces high at last

Mark Chapman made a winning difference in his first game back for the Auckland Aces.

It took seven rounds for the becalmed Aces to get a win on the board, but when they did it was a big-scoring bonanza with touches of brilliance against one of the top teams.

Chapman enjoyed himself as he top-scored with his explosive 34-ball 73, after the Aces had been sent in by Central Stags captain Tom Bruce.

He came to the middle at 42/2 in the sixth and reduced the impact of losing Glenn Phillips early, the powerhouse caught by Joey Field off Doug Bracewell for just a single.

He formed a potent combo with Martin Guptill who had already creamed the first six of the game. They peeled 19 off the rookie Field's eighth over, and 14 off veteran Kieran Noema-Barnett's first turn in the attack as they hummed along in the warn, overcast conditions despite a slightly slowish deck.

Their stand reached 54 before Blair Tickner suddenly forced them apart, Guptill caught behind on 29. But Aces skipper Robbie O'Donnell slotted in quickly, and went on to reach a calm half century at the death.

Another 19-run over, this time from Tickner, in the 17th cost the Stags the chance to put any run pressure on towards the end and, despite removing Chapman at last at the start of the 19th, and Josh Clarkson finishing well with two wickets off his last two balls, the Aces had set the Stags a 200-chase.

The Stags had already proven a few times this season that they had the firepower to chase that down, but they also needed luck in the power play and this time they did not get it.

Guptill took a spectacular - and crucial - one-handed catch on the boundary in the fourth over to dismiss the Stags' top batsman George Worker for just 11.

Will Young (34) got going but there was another big moment when his all-star partnership with Ross Taylor was cut short by Ross Taylor not grounding his bat across the line in a sharp runout appeal, departing for just two off O'Donnell's throw.

It was a timely moment for captain Tom Bruce to surge back in to form with his first half century of the season, but the problem for the Stags was the required run rate was still hovering around double figures, as it had been from the outset.

The Stags batted deep but the wickets kept coming for the Aces and, by the time they had Ajaz Patel at the crease at 135/6 in the 17th, even some late fireworks from dependable Doug Bracewell couldn't stop the Stags going down on this occasion.

Auckland Aces beat Central Stags by 17 runs