Victoria v Queensland, Pura Cup, Melbourne, 1st day November 24, 2006

Bulls fight back despite Denton's six wickets

Brydon Coverdale at the MCG

Victoria 0 for 39 trail Queensland 272 (Noffke 81*, Symonds 62, Johnson 54, Denton 6-62) by 233 runs

Gerard Denton tore through the Queensland top order and finished with 6 for 62 © Getty Images

Gerard Denton rattled Queensland with 6 for 62 but a 128-run partnership for the ninth wicket helped the Bulls limit the damage in their Pura Cup match against Victoria at the MCG. Queensland were in desperate trouble at 6 for 52 in the first session before the Bushrangers struggled to finish them off and allowed Ashley Noffke and Mitchell Johnson to pile on the runs in their ninth-wicket stand.

The Bulls, who had chosen to bat, avoided the very real prospect of being bowled out before tea and pushed their score to 272, giving Victoria the chance to reach 0 for 39 at stumps. Noffke passed fifty for the eighth time in his career, bringing up the milestone from just 45 deliveries and making the Bushrangers pay after Jon Moss put down a tough one-handed chance at point when Noffke was on 6. He then played a more steady role and finished unbeaten on 81 from 143 balls, including 13 fours. Johnson earned his highest first-class score of 54 as the pair took the total from 8 for 140 to 9 for 268.

In a dramatic morning session first Denton then Andrew McDonald ploughed through the Queensland top order. Denton's first spell of seven overs included six maidens and gave him 3 for 3. He had Lachlan Stevens bowled for 3 in his first over, Martin Love trapped lbw for 2 in his second and Jimmy Maher lbw for 14 in his seventh.

Just when Andrew Symonds appeared to be steadying the ship, McDonald tore through his partners with three wickets in the space of four balls. Like Denton, McDonald proved the old adage that if the batsman misses the bowler should hit, as he had Clinton Perren (3) and James Hopes (0) lbw from successive balls and Chris Hartley bowled for 0.

Symonds was the only one of Queensland's specialist batsmen who looked remotely comfortable, but he struggled to time the ball and opened his shoulders only occasionally on his way to 62. His 68-run partnership with Andy Bichel (33) put the Bulls back on track until both batsmen were dismissed before tea.