Kings on the charge

Tom Latham's first Dream11 Super Smash trot since his century in Napier three years ago was a joyous return for the BLACKCAP as the Canterbury Kings strengthened their position just behind leaders Northern Brave.

The Kings showed again how dangerous they can be in this competition with a well managed 18-run win over a good Auckland Aces side, with Latham contributing a 19-ball 34 to the host's 154.

While that total should not have had the Aces too nervous at Hagley Oval, the Kings fielding and work with the ball had them in all sorts with only captain Robbie O'Donnell (56 off 37) able to give his side impetus as they chased under lights.

Batting conditions had become a touch more difficult in the second innings.

O'Donnell had earlier chosen to bowl first, but it was excellent catching and superb pressure from emerging allrounder Henry Shipley (3-14 off his four overs), BLACKCAP Matt Henry (1-34, stopping a rampaging and desperate Lockie Ferguson on 30 at the death) and tidy support from nearly all the Kings' attack that was the Aces' real problem, after losing too many early wickets.

The Kings are now six from eight, and they can still finish top of the men's ladder.

But the Auckland Aces quickly need to pull up their navy blue socks in a busy and decisive week - neck-and-neck in third spot alongside the Wellington Firebirds, who likewise have four wins from eight games and are fighting for a top-three Finals spot.