CRICKET: Gympie finished the second day of the Sunshine Coast division one grand final in sight of the prize that has eluded the Gold in three previous encounters over the last three years.
At 3/96 chasing Maroochydore Blue's 198, the batsmen are but one good session from a probably decisive first innings lead, but that session will be a huge test of Gympie's spirit.
Showers had stopped play early in the final stanza of day one with the Swans' Lachlan Kropp and Doug Newell at the crease and the score at 2/97.
To recoup time, play was set to restart half an hour early at 9.30am on day two.
The resumption lasted just one ball when an in-swinging yorker from Kaden Dickfos shattered Newell's stumps, and after Troy Ashton trapped Kropp in front next over, the Swans were 4/107, with the previous 70-over occupation of the crease just a memory of day one.
Ashton proved hard for all to handle as Gerard Flegler and Dan Hall sought a partnership, but the breakthrough came from the other end when Chandler's plea for lbw against Hall found a raised finger.
From 5/134 Maroochydore began pursuing a revised target, a goal pushed downward as the 190cm Ashton stretched further to bring down a caught and bowled halfchance from the Swans' skipper.
Steve Brady gloved Chris Welsh's edge off Ashton to complete a 5/62 session with Maroochydore 7/159.
But it was 40 minutes into the middle session before the bowlers could relax after the Swans' last pair put on 31 to push the tally to 198, with Shane Newton adding his three to Ben Kethro's sparkling 27.
Troy Ashton was the best for the Gold with 5/41 off 29 overs.
When Steve Brady and Ash Sippel took the crease.
The Gold reply was always going to be lively.
Then both were back in the shed courtesy of Newton after 11 overs which added 47 runs.
Tea saw Gympie on 2/48, with an extended final session posing the question of how close the batsmen could be to 200 by stumps.
The short answer to this was "not very", as Chris Welsh came into the attack to slow the scoring, and added Josh Brady's wicket for 18 while the Gold crawled from 48 after 11 overs to 73 off 30.
Another sudden scud stopped play until just before 5pm, and from there Lewis Waugh and Kaden Dickfos lasted the day out to close 103 runs from the lead.
What Gympie faces next week will be the experience of Shane Newton and the guile of Chris Welsh.
Newton has 2/25 from 19 overs while Welsh has 1/13 off 14 overs, with eight maidens.
The first session should resolve the battle.
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