Blues benefit from MacGill's perfect return
New South Wales 4 for 76 (Cullen 3-9) trail South Australia 128 (MacGill 5-49) by 52 runs
Stuart MacGill made the best possible comeback from his long injury lay-off, collecting 5 for 49 as South Australia capitulated for 128 at the SCG. Dan Cullen also made use of the spin-friendly conditions with three wickets to leave New South Wales at 4 for 76 when bad light stopped play.
The Blues looked all set to secure a Pura Cup home final when they routed the Redbacks and got away to a flying start, reaching 0 for 59 in their reply. However, Cullen ensured the day was not a complete write-off for South Australia when he picked up Phil Jaques (24) and Simon Katich in consecutive deliveries.
Katich, the competition's leading run scorer this season, was lbw for a first-ball duck and Cullen finished the day with 3 for 9 when Usman Khawaja followed for 7. At the close Brad Haddin was on 5 and Dominic Thornely had 4.
New South Wales were still in a strong position to aim for first-innings points but depending on Victoria's efforts against Queensland the Blues might need a victory to lock in a decider at the SCG. MacGill, who has only played a couple of club games since having carpal-tunnel surgery on his right wrist in early December, got them away to an excellent start.
He was called into the attack in the 12th over after South Australia chose to bat and claimed a wicket first ball when Daniel Harris cut a long-hop to point. MacGill extracted significant turn and had 2 for 0 when Jake Brown was stumped for 9.
Shane Deitz (21) was lbw to a leg-break and Mark Cleary was bowled for a second-ball duck when he could not protect his stumps from MacGill's spin. The retiring Matthew Nicholson chipped in with 2 for 17 in his final game for New South Wales, while Grant Lambert grabbed 2 for 23. South Australia's dismal top-order efforts continued with only Deitz and Cullen Bailey (26) passing 20.