Collapse could see NSW Blues lose top spot in Sheffield Shield

NSW are staring defeat in the face and in grave danger of surrendering top position on the Shield table after a horror day against South Australia on Tuesday.

The Blues, who have already conceded first innings points, are in need of a heroic performance from their bowlers if they are to defeat the Redbacks after a disastrous collapse late on the third day.

The Redbacks, having survived one over before stumps, will resume on the final day on 0-0 in pursuit of a paltry victory target of 96 after the Blues were skittled for a meagre 148 - their lowest completed innings this season. It was well short of the 200 the Blues had been aiming to set.

Although conditions for batting have gradually worsened it was still the same pitch on which the visitors' tail wagged earlier in the day, adding an invaluable 151 runs with their last five wickets.

The Blues were no match for the left-arm pace bowling of Gary Putland, who recovered from a mauling in the first innings by making a potential match-winning contribution in the second.

Putland ripped apart the Blues' top order, snaring the wickets of Ryan Carters and Scott Henry with the new ball, then inflicted more damage by removing Peter Nevill and Trent Copeland, who has played some useful innings lower down the order this season.

He finished with the excellent figures of 4-35.

It was a day to forget for the Blues, who were comprehensively outplayed with bat and ball by a South Australian team clearly up for the challenge.

After removing the Redbacks South African captain Johan Botha in the first hour, they were then defied by a string of handy performances by the visitors' tail.

Most frustrating for the Blues was the 74-run stand between former NSW quick Joe Mennie and Kane Richardson, who steered their team past the hosts' first innings total of 373.

The Blues had already lost four wickets before they had erased their first-innings deficit of 53 thanks to Putland and Botha.

Such was the pressure being built by the Redbacks bowlers early, hardly an over went by without a voceiferous appeal.

Veteran Ben Rohrer was the only batsman to offer any meaningful resistance, making 40 before being given out leg before wicket shouldering arms to a ball from Botha which spat up off a good length and could have missed the top of off.

They slumped to 7-91 but handy knocks from Blues tailenders Sean Abbott, Stephen O'Keefe and Manjot Singh gave their team a semblance of hope.

"There's a few taking off and a few keeping a bit low," Rohrer said.

"You add the sideways movement as well - there's enough playing tricks on batsmen's mind that we can start putting the dressing room under pressure if we can get a few of these good players out early."

New South Wales (1st innings) 373

South Australia (1st Innings - overnight 5-288)
M KLINGER c Nevill b Sandhu 0
P HUGHES c Carters b Copeland 118
T HEAD lbw b Copeland 13
T COOPER c Nevill b Copeland 24
C FERGUSON c Sandhu b O'Keefe 80
J BOTHA c Nevill b Copeland 36
T LUDEMAN b O'Keefe 30
J MENNIE c Carters b O'Keefe 45
K RICHARDSON c Copeland b Henriques 40
C SAYERS not out 6
G PUTLAND c Nevill b Henriques 0
Sundries (8b, 5lb, 10w, 11nb) 34
Total 426
Fall of wickets: 3 (Klinger), 24 (Head), 82 (Cooper), 226 (Ferguson), 275 (Hughes), 307 (Botha), 340 (Ludeman), 414 (Richardson), 422 (Mennie), 426 (Putland)
Bowling: T Copeland 38-16-92-4 (1nb), G Sandhu 17-0-85-1 (5w 9nb), M Henriques 12.2-1-48-2 (1w), S Abbott 27-11-51-0 (4w 1nb), S O’Keefe 27-4-93-3, M Singh 15-5-44-0.

New South Wales (2nd Innings)
N MADDINSON b Sayers 0
R CARTERS lbw b Putland 4
S HENRY c Botha b Putland 1
B ROHRER lbw b Botha 40
M HENRIQUES c and b Botha 19
P NEVILL c Cooper b Putland 10
T COPELAND c Ludeman b Putland 6
S ABBOTT b Mennie 27
S O'KEEFE c Head b Sayers 15
M SINGH c Cooper b Richardson 19
G SANDHU not out 0
Sundries (3w, 4nb) 7
Total 148
Fall of wickets:
0 (Maddinson), 3 (Henry), 11 (Carters), 48 (Henriques), 73 (Rohrer), 75 (Nevill), 91 (Copeland), 123 (Abbott), 144 (O’Keefe), 148 (Singh)
Bowling: C Sayers 10-6-13-2, G Putland 9-2-35-4 (3w 1nb), K Richardson 10.5-4-40-1, J Botha 15-5-44-2, J Mennie 5-1-16-1 (3nb)

South Australia (2nd Innings)
P HUGHES not out 0
M KLINGER not out 0
Sundries 0
Total (no loss - close) 0
Bowling: S Abbott 1-1-0-0

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