Eighteen-year-old Jacob Duffy has turned in his best Twenty20 bowling performance to lift the Otago Volts to the top of the HRV Cup leaderboard, along with Wellington Firebirds and Northern Knights.
Duffy and fellow young pace bowler James Fuller made life too difficult for the Auckland Aces with their pace and bounce.
Coming off back-to-back losses, the defending champion Aces were desperate not to lose further momentum in the competition and like the Volts had two games in hand to catch up with the leaders.
Volts captain Derek de Boorder chose to bat first on a Queenstown pitch that had good carry and bounce. The Aces' bowling attack was quickly in charge. Kyle Mills permitted a mere single off the opening over, before Michael Bates swept in to capitalise, dismissing the dangerous Hamish Rutherford, who lobbed a catch directly to Bhupinder Singh at short fine leg.
Bates then dished up a wicket maiden to remove Aaron Redmond. After surviving a dropped catch - one of four in the innings - Neil Broom was caught off Andre Adams' first ball, top-edging a tame delivery to a grateful Gareth Hopkins.
The wicket saw Adams join Ronnie Hira as Auckland's best overall Twenty20 wicket-taker with 48 scalps.
Having found the boundary a pitiful three times in the first half of their innings, the Volts were looking to pro Ryan ten Doeschate to save them, but his partners changed as quickly as December weather. Nathan McCullum was run out and form batsman Michael Bracewell sliced a catch to Mills at third man.
At 53-5, ten Doeschate and Jimmy Neesham stepped up, carving Donovan Grobbelaar for 23 runs off the 15th to post the Volts' 100. Bates, who had completed his opening spell with starry figures of 2-4, returned to a more testing dual with Neesham, who hoisted him for six amid 15 runs peeled from the 18th.
Slamming Bates for a six at the death, Neesham joined ten Doeschate in the half-century club, as Bates's figures were ruined, the batsmen's 103-run partnership off 50 balls saving Otago's blushes.
Chasing 157, the Aces got off to the worst possible start against the lively pace and bounce of Fuller and Duffy. Both opening batsmen traipsed back with ducks - Phil Mustard's a golden, having edged his first-ball to first slip, while Lou Vincent's was a three-ball egg.
Gareth Hopkins and Anaru Kitchen fell in Duffy's second over and the Aces were 16-4, as Duffy completed his first set for an impressive 3-8 off two.
Colin de Grandhomme was run out after an explosive 31 off 12 and the match remained in the balance, until Donovan Grobbelaar and Craig Cachopa were dismissed in consecutive overs after a 47-run partnership.
The Aces could not find the boundary often enough, and Fuller and Duffy closed out the last four overs for a lean 25 runs to ensure a 13-run victory.
Scores will be settled between the two sides when they meet again in this week's Friday night encounter. Meanwhile, the Canterbury Wizards and Central Stags will play the first HRV Cup match of 2013 in Nelson today, followed by the Northern Knights and Wellington Firebirds at Mount Maunganui at 4.30pm.
Otago Volts v Auckland Aces
Rutherford c Singh b Bates 5
Broom c Hopkins b Adams 14
Redmond c de Grandhomme b Bates 1
McCullum run out (Cachopa/Hopkins) 6
ten Doeschate run out (de Grandhomme/Hopkins) 61
Bracewell c Mills b de Grandhomme 4
Neesham not out 59
de Boorder run out (Hopkins) 1
Total (for seven wickets) 157
Bowling: Mills 4-0-30-0 (1nb), Bates 3.6-1-31-2, Grobbelaar 3-0-29-0, Adams 4-0-29-1, de Grandhomme 3-0-16-1, Singh 2-0-19-0
Mustard c McCullum b Fuller 0
Vincent c de Boorder b Duffy 0
Hopkins c Neesham b JA Duffy 12
Kitchen c Butler b JA Duffy 3
de Grandhomme run out (Broom/McCullum) 32
Cachopa c de Boorder b ten Doeschate 43
Grobbelaar c de Boorder b Neesham 10
Mills not out 20
Adams c Neesham b JA Duffy 15
Bates run out (ten Doeschate/Duffy) 2
Total (for nine wickets) 144
Bowling: Fuller 4-0-20-1, Duffy 4-0-21-4, Butler 2-0-21-0, Neesham 3-0-27-1, McCullum 3-0-35-0, ten Doeschate 4-0-18-1