New South Wales 5 for 200 (Copeland 54*, Patterson 52*) trail Tasmania 354 (Dunk 89, Paine 78, O'Keefe 4-74) by 154 runs
The chances of Ben Hilfenhaus playing any part in the Ashes lengthened considerably after he suffered a mild side strain as Tasmania fought to restrict New South Wales on the second day in Hobart. Having scored 354, the Tigers were on top when the Blues wobbled to 5 for 102 but unbeaten half-centuries to Kurtis Patterson and Trent Copeland kept the visitors in with a chance of first-innings points at Bellerive Oval.
They will be helped by the absence of Hilfenhaus, who has been ruled out for two to four weeks after scans confirmed a strain. The chances of Hilfenhaus being promoted to the Test side appeared slim in any case, as he had endured a difficult start to the Sheffield Shield campaign and has managed only five wickets at 65.60 so far, and he was able to bowl only five overs on the second day of this game.
"Ben started the game with some discomfort around his left 12th rib," the Tasmania physio Stewart Williamson said. "He has experienced this pain on and off for the last few years and generally manages to play through it. An MRI scan this afternoon confirmed that Ben has a mild left side strain and we expect this to be a two- to four-week injury."
Sam Rainbird picked up two wickets for Tasmania and one each went to Luke Butterworth, Evan Gulbis and Xavier Doherty, but none of the bowlers could break the 98-run partnership between Patterson and Copeland, who pushed the score along to 5 for 200 at stumps. Patterson, who had not passed fifty in a first-class match since his remarkable 157 on debut two summers ago, finished on 52, while Copeland was on 54.
Earlier, Tasmania had added 55 to their overnight score for the loss of their final four wickets. Butterworth finished unbeaten on 41 and the spinner Steve O'Keefe will begin the second innings on a hat-trick after cleaning up the tail and collecting 4 for 74, including Hilfenhaus stumped and Rainbird lbw from consecutive deliveries to end the innings on 354.