New South Wales Blues fast bowler Liam Hatcher has claimed his second five-wicket haul in as many Toyota Futures League matches and given the NSW Metro batters an opportunity to achieve victory over ACT/NSW Country in Wollongong.
Hatcher returned 5-58 from 20 overs on day three of the final round fixture at North Dalton Park in a convincing bowling performance by NSW Metro that bowled out its intra-state rivals for 231 in their second innings.
NSW Metro was set 283 for victory and are 1/89 at stumps on Wednesday. Opener Daniel Solway (35 not out) and nightwatchman Daniel Fallins (4 not out) are the unbeaten batsmen at the crease.
Hatcher claimed 7-43 last round to bowl NSW Metro to victory by 10 runs on a thrilling final day against Victoria.
The 22-year-old right-arm quick has now claimed 18 wickets across his last four innings in the Futures League. He collected 3-33 in the first innings against ACT/NSW Country.
Hatcher and fellow Blues paceman Mickey Edwards took nine wickets between them on Wednesday.
Edwards returned 4-50 from 12 overs. The other wicket taker was leg-spinner Fallins (1-22).
ACT/NSW Country openers Henry Hunt (68) and Matt Gilkes (41) shared their third century stand in the Futures League this season on day three.
The pair resumed with the score at 0/21 and moved it onto 106 before Hatcher broke through to claim the wicket of Gilkes.
That wicket prompted a collapse that saw ACT/NSW Country lose 6/40 including the next four batsmen for single figures.
Leg-spinning allrounder Tom Engelbrecht contributed a valuable 28 from 39 balls to stem the tide of wickets somewhat and the lower order managed to add 85 runs.
Fast bowler Joe Kershaw (17), spinner Ben Taylor (16), as well as debutant and No. 10 Benji Floros (18) all made significant contributions.
In reply, 19-year-old Ryan Hackney (44) and Solway added 83 for the first wicket.
Hackney was caught behind from the bowling of paceman Floros (1-13) after more than 100 minutes at the crease.
A win for ACT/NSW Country will see it finish top of the competition table at the end of the final round.