Penrith wicketkeeper-batsman Tyran Liddiard has steered his club to a crucial first innings lead in the McDonald’s NSW Premier Cricket Grand Final, on Saturday, that could break a 36-year premiership drought.

In reply to 207 posted by minor premiers Sydney University, Penrith was 9/204 late on day two of three at Bankstown Oval, knowing that a first innings lead could mean victory in the event of a draw.

Liddiard, still in his early 20s, clinched the runs that put Penrith ahead, and finished the day 90 not out from 141 balls. The emotion shown when the lead was secured was obvious, as he leapt in the air, punching the sky.

In fading light due to a delayed start to the day caused by rain, Penrith finished 9/242 at stumps leading by 35 runs. Left-arm seamer and No. 11 Ryan Fletcher (12 not out) was the other unbeaten batsmen for the Panthers.

Fletcher and Liddiard have added 38 runs for the final wicket so far.

Liddiard came to the centre with score at 4/97, and his team needing to consolidate, still 110 runs behind.

He followed the key wicket of NSW Blues batsman Ryan Gibson (45), bowled by lion-hearted quick Joe Kershaw, who claimed 3-77 from 25 overs.

In a high pressure situation, the leadership qualities that saw Liddiard named the Sydney Thunder Indigenous Men’s captain earlier in the season came to the fore.

He added an invaluable 50 for the sixth wicket with ACT/NSW Country Under 19 allrounder Henry Railz (19 from 46) and batted maturely with the tail.

However, wickets continued to fall. When Penrith captain and seamer Ryan Smith (3) became the ninth wicket, it appeared the students may just hang on to a lead on the first innings.

The magnitude of the situation was captured by the reaction of Liddiard, and the Penrith supporters in the crowd, when the keeper hit the runs that took his team past Sydney University in the 71st over of the first innings and 74th of the day.

Liddiard has so far hit nine fours throughout his over three-hour stay at the crease.

Earlier, Sydney University was bowled out in the third over of the day after it resumed at 9/201. Wicketkeeper-batsman for the students, Tim Cummins, was the last wicket to fall.

He top-scored for Sydney University with a hard fought 77 from 176 balls.

Cummins then followed that effort with four catches behind the stumps, including three from left-arm paceman Dugald Holloway (4-34), who returned best figures for Sydney University on day two.

Smith claimed the final wicket of Cummins. The leading seamer in the First Grade competition this season returned 2-48 and took his season tally to 59.

The Penrith skipper trails Devlin Malone by five wickets, in second place on the list of leading wicket takers for the season, after the University leg-spinner claimed 1-55 on day two.

Similar to the Sydney University first innings, only two partnerships for Penrith reached 50. Liddiard and Railz made exactly that number, while Gibson and Cameron Weir (27) added 53 for the third wicket.

Experienced seamer Tim Ley was the other wicket taker for the minor premiers on the second day. He collected the tidy figures of 1-28 from 12 overs.

In Second Grade, Parramatta resumed day two of the three-day Grand Final at 2/237 and built a massive first innings total of 6/385 before declaring after nearly 120 overs at the crease.

The foundation for the huge total was set by Will Affleck (128) and Taj Brar (82) who shared a 210-run opening stand. Abhishek Talwar (51) also passed fifty. In reply, minor premiers Sydney University are 4/215 with captain, and brother of Blues opener Nick Larkin, James Larkin unbeaten on 55.

He shared a 107-run fourth wicket partnership with Nicky Craze (83). A draw on first innings seals the title for the students.

The Third, Fourth and Fifth Grade Grand Finals all started on Saturday with each match concluding the following day.

Sydney University also finished the Third Grade competition as minor premiers, but it was their opponents Eastern Suburbs, who made the stronger start on Saturday at Coogee Oval.

The students were bowled out for 199 within 75 overs. Wicketkeeper-batsman Hayden Storey made 91 from 134 balls for Sydney University.

Easts opening bowler Jonathon Smith claimed 4-44 from 20 overs. In response, the Dolphins are 2/39.

In the Fourth Grade Grand Final, which did not start until mid-afternoon due to inclement weather, St George openers Eric Serra (84 not out) and Joshua Vella (61 not out) remain unbeaten at stumps. The Saints are 0/159 against Manly-Warringah at Hurstville Oval.

UNSW was dismissed for 153 on the first day of the Fifth Grade Grand Final at Glenn McGrath Oval. Nathan Whittingham (4-32) and Ronak Bedi (4-50) were the key bowlers for Sutherland. In reply, the hosts are 1/41.

McDonald’s NSW Premier Cricket - Grand Finals

First Grade:

Sydney University 207 (T Cummins 77 R McElduff 41 R Gibson 2-10 T Weir 2-26 R Fletcher 2-36 L Hodges 2-43 R Smith 2-48) v Penrith 9-242 (T Liddiard 90no R Gibson 45 C Weir 27 D Holloway 4-34 J Kershaw 3-77) at Bankstown Oval.

Second Grade:

Parramatta 6(dec)-385 (W Affleck 128 T Brar 82 A Talwar 51 L O'Farrell 39 T Affleck 33 S Cassel 26 B Joy 2-111) v Sydney University 4-215 (N Craze 83 J Larkin 55no V George 46) at University Oval. 

Third Grade

Sydney University 199 (H Storey 91 C Litchfield 35 J Smith 4-44 M Morley 2-43 R O'Beirne 2-58) v Eastern Suburbs 2-39 (L McMahon 2-16) at Coogee Oval.

Fourth Grade

St George 0-159 (E Serra 84no J Vella 61no) v Manly-Warringah at Hurstville Oval.

Fifth Grade

UNSW 153 (J Gavan 34 J Greenberg 32 D Bowcock 21 N Whittingham 4-32 R Bedi 4-50 M Holmes 2-41) v Sutherland 1-41 (B Letton 20) at Glenn McGrath Oval.