Wallsend have boosted their semi-final chances and joined a logjam of teams in and around the top four after Saturday’s comprehensive 112-run win over third-placed Newcastle City.
With four two-day matches remaining in the regular season the Tigers jump into sixth spot on the competition ladder and are now in the midst of five sides separated by six points.
Wallsend (40), who suffered back-to-back losses before the Christmas break, have Charlestown (43) and title holders Hamilton-Wickham (42) just above them in the first grade standings while Belmont (38) and University (37) sit just below them.
The Tigers meet both University and Belmont in the last two rounds in what could become virtual play-offs in their bid for a shot at premiership glory.
This potential scenario, coupled with the congested leaderboard, made Wallsend’s victory against City even more important at No.1 Sportsground on day two of the round 10 encounter.
The early wickets of City pair Sam O’Sullivan and Nicholas Tantos for ducks set the tone before a crucial spell from Tigers skipper Nathan Price, who was recently named captain of the NSW Indigenous squad for next month’s national championships in the Northern Territory.
Price (3-30) took 3-11 when he dismissed Kai Appleby (25), Ahmed Badat (26) and Jonty Major (6) in quick succession to reduce the hosts to 6-87.
Newcastle representative all-rounder Dylan Hunter followed soon after and City, after resuming at 1-31, were all out for 123.
Wallsend, who made 235 last weekend, enforced the follow on and City finished at 3-55 when stumps were called.
Elsewhere, Charlestown (6-143) staved off an outright attempt by second-placed Wests (217), who already had first-innings points and eventually an 85-run lead, courtesy of an unbeaten half-century by skipper Steve Mace at Kahibah Oval.
Matt Webber’s 5-56 ensured Uni (209) fell 58 runs short against Hamwicks, frontrunners Merewether (9dec241) had a comfortable victory after starting the day at 1-61 and 108 behind Waratah-Mayfield, Toronto got the job done by 50 over Belmont (125) but weren’t able to muster a second-innings result while Stockton-Raymond Terrace held on by 28 to deny winless Cardiff-Boolaroo (160).
LADDER: Merewether 66, Wests 53, City 48, Charlestown 43, Hamwicks 42, Wallsend 40, Belmont 38, University 37, Toronto 27, Waratah 21, Stockton 20, Cardiff 10.