Competition heats up as teams chase Ford Trophy Finals series extra lives

With three rounds left to play, the Ford Trophy Finals series is approaching fast. In the extended finals format, teams finishing first and second get an extra 'life', a big incentive for sealing top of the table spots.

The 2013 Ford Trophy season has seen a number of high scores and exciting run chases. Individual highlights include the Firebirds' Michael Papps' run of three big centuries, and the Stags' Jamie How's record shattering 222 in Hamilton. In round four, the average innings across all six teams was a mammoth 351. With form like this, the Ford Trophy Finals series is shaping to showcase some truly spectacular domestic cricket.

Extended Ford Trophy Finals series format
Final series places are based on positions at the completion of the eight round robin matches.  The home team is named first and the top two ranked teams effectively have two lives during the preliminary finals: 

Minor Preliminary Finals - Sunday, 24 March
Game A – Qualifier 1 v Qualifier 2
Game B – Qualifier 3 v Qualifier 4 

Major Preliminary Final – Wednesday, 27 March
Game C – Loser Game A v Winner Game B 

Ford Trophy Final – Sunday, 31 March
Winner Game A v Winner Game C  

All finals matches will start at 10.30am.

Positions at the end of the round robin are determined by total points (including bonus points).
If teams are tied on the same total points, the following applies: 
i. The team with the most number of wins
ii. The team with the most number of wins over the other team (or teams if more than two teams are equal after applying i.)
iii. The team with the highest number of bonus points
iv. The team with the highest net run rate

Points table
1. Auckland Aces   16
2. Canterbury Wizards  15
3. SKYCITY Northern Knights  13
4. Devon Hotel Central Stags    8
5. Wellington Firebirds    8
6. Otago Volts     4

Full table

Rounds four and five review
The Aces made home advantage count, leaping to first spot after wins over the Wizards and Firebirds at Eden Park No. 2 last week. The Wizards leapfrogged the Knights after their win in Mount Maunganui on Sunday to sit second, in the 'extra life' place, for now. The Volts recorded their first win against the Stags on Sunday, and are now within striking distance of a finals spot, showing there's all to play for with three rounds left. 

You can tell the Firebirds' Michael Papps is having an extraordinary season as he sits 234 runs ahead of second place on the 'most runs' table. His three centuries this season have helped him to 539 runs, followed by the Aces' Anaru Kitchen on 305 and the Stags' Jamie How on 299, thanks in large part to his memorable 222 v the Knights in round four.

The Wizards' Matt Henry (14) has edged ahead of the Aces' Kyle Mills (13) on the 'most wickets' table, with the Wizards' Ryan McCone and the Stags' Tarun Nethula tied on 9 each.

Preview of rounds six and seven
The Volts will be trying to elbow their way firmly into finals contention against the Knights in Mount Maunganui and the Wizards at home in Dunedin. The Aces will be looking to consolidate top spot and avenge their round two defeat to the Knights at Eden Park No. 2 on Sunday, after playing the Stags at the same venue mid-week. With the Stags and Firebirds both in the bottom half as it stands, their clash on Sunday at Pukekura Park could be make or break for their chances of making the Finals Series.

Matches this week:

Wednesday 13 March
Auckland Aces v Devon Hotel Central Stags at Eden Park No2, Auckland
Canterbury Wizards v Wellington Firebirds at Hagley Oval, Christchurch
SKYCITY Northern Knights v Otago Volts at Bay Oval, Mount Maunganui

Sunday 17 March
Auckland Aces v Northern Knights at Eden Park No. 2, Auckland
Devon Hotel Central Stags v Wellington Firebirds at Pukekura Park, New Plymouth
Otago Volts v Canterbury Wizards at University Oval, Dunedin

Ford Trophy schedule, match reports and video and media scorecards

With Thanks To

ANZ Ford
Burger King Tui CCC Powerade Caltex 2 Degrees GJ Gardner BLK
Sky Pitch Radio Sport TAB Accor Hotels Les Mills