Tigers keep title defence chances alive

 TASMANIA is daring to dream of a second straight miracle run to the Sheffield Shield final and an unlikely defence of its title. 

The Shield champion crushed Queensland by 183 runs at Bellerive to keep its slim final chances alive. 

The Ricky Ponting-inspired Tigers came from fourth last season to snatch hosting rights and famously went on to deliver the former Test skipper his first Shield success. 

``We were in a very similar place to this last year,'' coach Dan Marsh said. 

``It's virtually the same situation, so while there's life there's hope.'' 

Tasmania's second outright win of the season, and first since November, takes it to 16 points on the table, and a mathematical chance of making next month's final with two matches to play. 

Queensland, its opponent in the 2012-13 decider, finds itself in an identical position. 

A second batting collapse for the match from the Bulls meant they were never a hope of chasing down the 333 they needed for victory. 

Resuming at 1-11 Queensland was 7-53 early on day four before it was all out for 149. 

Tasmanian left-arm paceman Sam Rainbird continues to impress and added 4-40 to the three wickets he'd grabbed in the first innings. 

The 21-year-old has stepped up in James Faulkner's absence and is now his side's leading wicket-taker with 26 at 24.65 in a breakthrough season. 

But Marsh credited Ben Hilfenhaus's first innings hat-trick as the pivotal moment in the match after his side had put 350 on the board in the first innings. 

``From that point on we really controlled the game,'' he said. 

Queensland coach Stuart Law conceded his side struggled on the slow wicket. 

``After day one the batsmen really struggled to get any momentum going anywhere,'' he said. 

``It probably wasn't really a fair contest between bat and ball.''

Both sides will need victory in the day/night, pink ball experimental round beginning on March 3. 

Tasmania is holding out some hope paceman Jackson Bird could return home from South Africa if not required for the third Test. 

The Bulls should get Usman Khawaja (hamstring) back but all-rounder Ben Cutting is in doubt with a suspected grade one hamstring tear and did not bowl in the second innings in Hobart. 

Ben Hilfenhaus

Ben Hilfenhaus