Young captain Tom Latham led from the front as Canterbury held off Northern Districts for an eight-run Twenty20 cricket win in Hamilton.
Latham, 20, slammed 52 off 29 balls to steady the Canterbury innings when they were teetering at 79-4 from 10 overs after winning the toss.
In tandem with Brendon Diamanti, Latham put on 70 in a crucial fifth-wicket stand and batted until midway through the 19th over as Canterbury reached 184-8 off their 20 overs.
Latham used eight bowlers to unsettle the Northern Districts run chase, with left-arm spinner Ronnie Hira particularly effective in picking up 3-16 off his four overs.
Jono Boult and Anurag Verma were left needing 26 off the final over for an unlikely Northern Districts win, eventually managing 18 off Logan van Beek, who finished with figures of 2-40 off three overs.
Northern Districts sit third on the table with 20 points, with only Sunday’s match against second-placed Wellington – also on 20 points – left before the playoffs.
Canterbury and Auckland are both on 12 points with two matches remaining, while Otago head the table with 28 points and two matches still to play.