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Victoria, Tasmania in neck-and-neck contest for spot in shield final

Tasmania and Victoria are neck-and-neck in their race for a spot in the Sheffield Shield final after a topsy-turvy opening day at Bellerive Oval in Hobart.

The Tigers were 7-304 at stumps yesterday after losing the toss and being sent in to bat.

The winner will book a place in the first-class decider against Queensland from March 23.

Second-placed Tasmania were just 0.18 points ahead of Victoria on the ladder heading into the final-round match. They have stretched that to 0.52 after allocation of first-day bonus points.

The Sheffield Shield scoring system awards bonus points for runs scored and wickets taken within the first 100 overs of each team’s first innings. Six points are on offer for an outright win.

Six of the Tigers’ top seven made decent starts but none went on to triple figures.

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In-form Jake Doran top-scored with 57, his third half century in as many matches. He played on to Chris Tremain (4-64) early in the third session to leave the Tigers teetering at 5-193.

But ex-Bushranger Matthew Wade (49) and all-rounder Simon Milenko (37) steadied the ship.Wade was dropped on 42 by Glenn Maxwell but holed out sevens runs later in the shadow of stumps, hooking Tremain straight down the throat of Travis Dean.

Tom Rogers and Sam Rainbird will resume on day two.Dan Christian picked up two key scalps including Tigers’ skipper George Bailey, caught behind down the leg side for 29 after tea.

In Wollongong, a gritty 97 from Joe Burns saved Sheffield Shield finalists Queensland from a disastrous opening to their final-round match against NSW.

Needing a win to guarantee a home final, Queensland’s top order had little answer to Trent Copeland’s accurate bowling, eventually being bowled out for 243.NSW survived a tricky 13-over spell to end the day at 0-41.

At Glenelg, SA were 0-4 in reply to WA’s 355 at stumps.AAP