Shield de­cider finely poised

Townsville Bulletin - - Bizfi Nd -

TAS­MA­NIA and NSW re­main locked in a tense battle for the Sh­effield Shield af­ter two days of the fi­nal at Bel­lerive Oval.

The Tigers fin­ished yes­ter­day at 3-160, a long way be­hind the Blues’ for­mi­da­ble first in­nings score of 440.

For­mer New South Welsh­man Ed Cowan was un­beaten on 80 with the competition’s lead­ing run scorer Mark Cos­grove on 19.

Cowan sur­vived the pace of 17-year-ol d t ear­away Pat Cum­mins ( 1-50) and the dis­ci­pline of t he metro­nomic Trent Copeland ( 2-52) t o an­chor the Tigers in­nings.

Things got off to a poor start for the hosts when the in-form Nick Kruger was ad­judged lbw to Cum­mins for just one.

But Alex Doolan stead­ied the ship, and with Cowan he com­piled 46 runs be­fore be­ing tempted by a Copeland de­liv­ery out­side off stump.

A dour strug­gle en­sued be­tween the Blues quicks and Cowan and Ge­orge Bai­ley, with just 28 runs scored in the hour af­ter tea.

Bai­ley even­tu­ally ran out of pa­tience and was caught be­hind off Copeland for nine, but Cowan was res­o­lute and e d g e d c l o s e r t o a wel l - de­served cen­tury.

H e s a i d t h e m o r n i n g session to­day would be cru­cial in the con­text of the match.

’’( It’s) huge ... if we can get to lunch un­scathed, we’ll go a long way to open­ing up this game,’’ Cowan said.

‘‘ We can get back in this game and make all three re­sults a pos­si­bil­ity.’’

Cowan said it was pleas­ing to score runs against for­mer team­mates.

‘‘ Ab­so­lutely, I’ve been cop­ping an ab­so­lute ear­ful out there,’’ he said.

‘‘ If you need any ex­tra mo­ti­va­tion in a Shield fi­nal, then that’d be it.’’

Earl i e r y e s t e r d a y , b i g - hit­ting from Ben Rohrer ( 64 not out) and the Blues tail helped push their score past 400.

B e n H i l f e n h a u s , w h o s t r u g g l e d o n T h u r s d a y a g a i n s t t h e B l u e s ’ l e f t - han­ders, looked a dif­fer­ent man with the new ball and took two wick­ets in the morn­ing session.

H i l f e n h a u s h a d P e t e r Nevill ( four) out to a jug­gling Mark Cos­grove catch at sec­ond slip and had Stephen O’Keefe ( seven) edg­ing a lift­ing de­liv­ery to Bai­ley.

Rohrer and Copeland then went on the at­tack, com­bin­ing for a 66-run part­ner­ship for the ninth wicket.

The for­mer was par­tic­u­larly bru­tal, slap­ping Luke But­ter­worth for four over mid-wicket to bring up his half cen­tury, then hit­ting a six to the same area the very next ball.

Tas­ma­nia need only draw the fi­nal to win the Shield.

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