Luke Bird was not out overnight but University skipper Matt Gawthrop knew the all-rounder would be more dangerous with ball in hand.
It prompted a declaration from Gawthrop at the the start of day two and Bird repaid the faith with 4-46 to help the Students claim a crucial outright victory over Wallsend.
Saturday’s first grade result at home keeps University’s premiership aspirations alive, jumping three places into fifth and sitting one point outside the semi-final spots with one round remaining in the regular season.
“There’s no way I was batting,” Gawthrop said. “Birdy was ready and raring to go. I gave him that chance.”
University closed their first innings at 6-228 with a lead of 111. Second time around Wallsend managed 199, including Bird’s scalp of opposition skipper Nathan Price, but the hosts had 23 overs to reach 89 and did so four wickets down with 28 balls to spare. The Tigers drop to seventh on the overall standings.
Elsewhere in Newcastle district encounters and Dylan Hunter gave Newcastle City a fighting chance against title holders Hamilton-Wickham with his second century this summer. The representative all-rounder made 136 at Passmore Oval but the Sabres fell 55 short of the Pumas after being dismissed for 302 with 19.2 overs remaining. City slip back two spots to sixth, four points behind Hamwicks now in fourth.
Belmont’s season looks all-but over with a 90-run loss to frontrunners Wests at Les Miller Field leaving them eighth and nine points outside the top four.
Toronto’s second-half resurgence continued with a win, their sixth straight, against third-placed Charlestown by 89 runs at Ron Hill Oval. They are ninth and trail Belmont by one point.
Second-placed Merewether missed maximum points but easily accounted for Stockton by 219 runs with Tim O’Neill’s fourth five-wicket haul of 2017-2018 seeing the visitors skittled for 58 at Townson Oval.
And Cardiff-Boolaroo chased down Waratah-Mayfield’s 156 with four wickets in hand. Steven Bradbury top scored on 62 at Waratah Oval and Cardiff are now only one point behind the hosts in the battle for the wooden spoon.
LADDER: Wests 75, Merewether 74, Charlestown 60, Hamwicks 55, University 54, City 51, Wallsend 50, Belmont 46, Toronto 45, Stockton 28, Waratah 23, Cardiff 22.
ROUND 14: Toronto v Merewether, Cardiff v Hamwicks, Wests v University, Stockton v Charlestown, Wallsend v Belmont, City v Waratah.