THE NTCA first grade grand final between Westbury and Mowbray is set up for an interesting final day's play today after the Eagles fought their way back into the contest on day 2.
The Shamrocks resumed their first innings at 3-56, chasing the Eagles' first innings total of 105, and were dismissed just before tea on the second day for 166 - a lead of 61 runs.
At one stage Westbury looked comfortable at 4-131, and the possibility of an early end to the grand final seemed on the cards.
But the Eagles bowlers stuck to their task and their persistence paid off as they grabbed the last six Shamrock wickets for 35 runs to get themselves back into the contest in the second session.
Josh Adams top-scored with 48 and Sean Leatherbarrow made 35, but after they were dismissed the Westbury innings fell away.
Liam Reynolds grabbed three wickets, including two in two balls, and his medium-pacers and Ric Considine also bowled well to pick up three.
Mowbray started its second innings after the tea break and was in early trouble, losing opener Matthew Scolyer for four and Reynolds for a duck to be 2-6.
Captain John Le Fevre and the experienced Clinton Reid then steadied the ship with a valuable 74-run partnership before Le Fevre was dismissed late in the day, caught behind by Wes Ripper off Matthew Battle for a patient 19.
Alan Eadie was another late casualty, dismissed LBW by Richard Howe for a duck.
But Reid remained 70 not out after a confident and positive batting display with the Eagles 4-104 at stumps - a lead of 43 runs heading into the final day.
Mowbray will be hoping that Reid can build on his total and with six wickets in hand will push for quick runs in the opening session to try to set up a target and hope it can dismiss the Shamrocks a second time to win.
``It was good hard cricket all day and we were able to get clumps of wickets after lunch,'' Le Fevre said.
``Clinton counter-attacked with the bat and put their bowlers under the pump a bit and showed how good positive cricket can get us back in it.
``If we could have bowled them out for maybe 20 less, it would have been ideal, but I think we are right back in the game now.
``We will look to set them a total we think we can bowl them out in and send them back in and try and get some early wickets and see what happens.''
For Westbury, the equation is simple: bowl the Eagles out as cheaply as possible and chase down the required runs for outright victory or survive two sessions with the bat to claim its second NTCA premiership in three years.
``It was a hard fight today. No one budged or gave an inch - brilliant cricket,'' Shamrocks coach Adrian Tudor said.
``They got away from us for a period today, and credit to Clint Reid: he has turned it into a three-day contest, which it deserves to be - and then we reined them back late.
``No matter what Mowbray do tomorrow, we will probably have to bat two sessions.
``But we will be looking for our batsmen to stand up and be counted, as our bowlers did in the first innings.
``Dane Anderson has played some big innings for us in the past, but there will be none bigger for him than tomorrow and he will need to stand up as captain.''
BEST WITH THE BAT
Clinton Reid (Mowbray) 70no
Josh Adams (Westbury) 48
Sean Leatherbarrow (Westbury) 35
BEST WITH THE BALL
Liam Reynolds (Mowbray) 3-25
Ric Considine (Mowbray) 3-33
Jonathan Chapman (Westbury) 2-18
Justin Reeves (Mowbray) 2-49