Tasmania 241 and 6 for 136 (Cowan 59*) lead Queensland 276 (Hartley 111, Hopes 58, Butterworth 4-54, Bird 4-58) by 101 runs
Chris Hartley's sixth first-class century and a strong performance from the Queensland bowlers gave the Bulls the upper hand in the battle for the Sheffield Shield. But at the close of the third day at the Gabba, Ed Cowan was still standing firm for Tasmania and Queensland needed another four wickets before they would know what target they would be chasing in the fourth innings.
Tasmania were 101 runs in front at stumps, with Cowan on 59 and Luke Butterworth on 11. Jason Krejza, Brendan Drew and Jackson Bird were the batsmen still to come for Tasmania, who were 6 for 136, and if the Tigers could push their advantage up towards 200 their bowlers would have something to defend in their push for back-to-back titles.
Cowan had been cautious but if the fast bowlers dropped short he was especially strong when cutting, and he had struck five boundaries. However, there hadn't been any top-order support for Cowan as the Queensland fast bowlers reduced the Tigers to 4 for 36 before Tom Triffitt (35) combined with Cowan for a stabilising 51-run stand.
Steve Magoffin had angled a ball across Steve Cazzulino, who was caught in the slips for 4, and Nick Kruger was also taken in the cordon for a 12-ball duck off the bowling of Ryan Harris. The big wicket came when the Queensland captain James Hopes brought himself on and struck first ball, nipping a ball back in between bat and pad to bowl Ricky Ponting for 6.
The edges kept coming as James Faulkner was caught at slip for 3 off Hopes, before the Cowan-Triffitt stand. Triffitt was bowled by Harris, who was impressive in collecting 2 for 35. The final wicket for the day was the batsman Alex Doolan, who was batting down at No.7 due to a back injury and hooked a catch to fine leg off the bowling of Alister McDermott for 15.
The day had started well for Tasmania, when Hopes added only four to his overnight score and was lbw to Jackson Bird for 58. Harris was caught behind off Luke Butterworth for 18 but then came the partnership that could yet prove to be the difference, a 97-run stand between Hartley and Magoffin that took Queensland from a shaky position to well past Tasmania's total.
Hartley's experience at the Gabba showed as he took few risks but latched on to anything full enough to drive through the off side, and his shots from cover to mid-off were outstanding. He also pulled occasionally and struck the ball down the ground and brought up his century from his 151st delivery with a pull for four off Krejza.
It was Hartley's first Shield hundred in two seasons and it came at the perfect time, as the Bulls aim to improve their conversion rate having made six of the past nine Shield finals for just one title. Hartley had excellent support from Magoffin, who didn't throw his wicket away and made a valuable 31 from 74 balls before he edged behind off Butterworth, who finished with 4 for 54.
Bird collected 4 for 56 as he had Cameron Boyce caught behind for a duck and then ended the innings with the wicket of Hartley, who on 111 left a ball that swung back into him and was trapped in front. It was the end of a fine innings, and one that could be the difference in a challenging match for the batsmen.