The coronavirus outbreak stripped South Launceston of its Danish import but not the advantage of runs on the board in day one of its preliminary final against Launceston.
Comprehensively beaten by the Lions last round, the Knights were forced to replace key pair Nathan Philip (work commitments) and Anders Bulow, with the latter forced to return home first thing Saturday morning.
In a day of two halves Launceston reduced the Knights to 4-61 and 7-181 before a tail wag of Clifford-sized proportions saw the home side to 9-319 at stumps.
"Anders actually got a phone call at eight o'clock this morning," South captain Tom Waller said.
"Denmark was closing their borders so he needed to get back ASAP so he could get back into the country.
"He was pretty disappointed ... it was a funny morning but we had a laugh about it in the end because what do you do, he has to get home.
"It was nice to be able to do what we did without those two."
Launceston quick Tom Gray was devastating early, removing Sean Harris and Waller cheaply before adding Sisitha Jayasinghe (68) later on.
When Will Bennett removed Ishang Shah for the exact same score the Lions were well on top but the twist in the tale was to come.
Late call-up Brodie Jarrad dug deep for 38 at number eight before tailenders Jackson Young (46) and Graham Donaldson (44*) registered their highest A-grade scores with a regular flow of boundaries.
Donaldson and Josh Freestone (17*) will resume at the crease on Sunday.
"It was a really vital last session for us - we put a big emphasis at the start of the day on batting three sessions," Waller said.
"You always know [Donaldson and Young] can bat, but batting down so late they sometimes don't get a chance.
"The wicket probably flattened out a little bit that last session, they had a chance to show their wares and it was really good."
ELSEWHERE IN SPORT:
Gray (5-97) collected Jeremy Jackson and Young in the final two sessions to complete his third A-grade five-for and keep the Lions in the hunt.
The 25-year-old also took a catch in the field to complete his best day of cricket this season.
"He'd be the first one to say he hasn't had his best year but he worked and worked today - he bowled 29 overs so he got some good reward," Lions captain Alistair Taylor said.
"He's one of the hardest workers at the club and to get five wickets is credit to him.
"To bowl that many overs is a big ask but he was up for it, he said 'yeah let's do it' so it was good."
The Lions will enter day two on the back foot, but boast one of the strongest batting line-ups in the competition.
Taylor and Ethan Conway both average 50 and six of Launceston's line-up have posted scores of 80-plus this season.
"If we play our best cricket from 11am to 6pm I think we'll be in with a good chance," Taylor said.
"We've just got to make sure we take this last wicket as soon as we can."
AT A GLANCE
- South Launceston 9-319 (101 overs)
- Sisitha Jayasinghe 68, Ishang Shah 68, Jackson Young 46, Graham Donaldson 44*
- Tom Gray 5-97, Daniel Smith 1-21, Will Bennett 1-36, Ross Tulich 1-42
SECOND GRADE FINALS
In the second grade semi-finals, Launceston appears well on its way to victory after an impressive bowling performance at the NTCA No.1
The Lions bowled South Launceston out for 133 in 42 overs after the good work of Angus Foster (36), Charlie Tindall (27) and Ethan Fox (22) was spoiled by a late-order collapse of 6-17.
Spinner Cody Townend took 3-4 off five overs, James Weir 3-39 and Matthew Lee 2-5 off 11.
In reply the Lions powered to 4-113 off 43 overs with captain Lawrence Dodson top-scoring with 35 and Theo Ives reaching stumps at 24 not out.
Westbury waltzed to first-innings points in the other semi at Riverside as Justin Curbishley took 5-19 off 15 overs to bowl the Blues out for 96.
Jack Manix-Geeves made a stubborn 25 off 117 while Jordan French took 3-30.
The Shamrocks then made 6-120 off 53 overs with Matthew Allen, Liam Ryan and Kaleb Williams (not out) all making 28.