Central Stags 107 all out in 17.1 overs (Will Young 26, Will Somerville 3-28) lost to Auckland Aces 111-5 in 16.4 overs (Martin Guptill 71*, Ben Wheeler 2-12) by five wickets at Pukekura Park, New Plymouth.
A Pukekura Park crowd of over 2000 were rewarded with a tense low scoring match, and a fine innings from the Aces' Martin Guptill.
Batting first, the Stags came roaring out of the gate, but were unable to maintain the early momentum. George Worker (24), Will Young (26) and Kieran Noema-Barnett (20) were the only Stags batsmen to make meaningful scores - their other seven team mates could only manage 34 between them.
Will Somerville made the transition between red ball and white ball look easy, picking up 3-28, with Matt Quinn (2-13), Lockie Fergusson (2-14) and Roneel Hira (2-28) in support, backed up by some classy fielding.
The home team were bundled out for 107 in the 18th over, a total that seemed light against a powerful batting line up - but the Aces also struggled to get into their rhythm with the bat.
It was Martin Guptill who led the charge with a determined innings, showing application and concentration to see the chase through while his partners fell all around him, to his frustration.
"I was a wee bit rusty to start with if I'm brutally honest, but it's nice to spend some time in the middle and see the boys through to the end," said Guptill.
"It wasn't the kind of wicket where you can just stand and hit through the ball. You had to give yourself a bit of time, and at the end of the day it didn't matter how many sixes we hit, just as long as we see the game through," he said.
In the 16th over, Guptill decided the time was right to make a big push. Hira (8*) and Guptill took 17 runs from Felix Murray, bringing up his 50 from 45 balls in the process, then hit Seth Rance for three consecutive fours to win the match by five wickets and site not out on 71*.
The win puts the Aces second after their Christmas Eve washout, while the Stags sit fourth with a win and a loss.