The ACES Plunket Shield hopes hang by a thread after defeat to the Wellington Firebirds by an innings and seven runs.
Trailing by 30 runs with two wickets in hand, a bright blue sky greeted the players at Colin Maiden Park.
Firebirds skipper Michael Bracewell continued on with his off-spinners, while Louis Delport (53*) made his way to a maiden First-Class fifty.
It was Bracewell who had the final say, nabbing both ACES wickets on the day to finish with career-best figures of 5-43 from his 29.4 overs.
The ACES now recoup before heading north to Whangarei for a Round Seven encounter with Northern Districts.