Victoria 199 and 280 (Dean 106, Maxwell 33, Copeland 5-59) lead New South Wales 171 and 2 for 150 (Hughes 59*, Larkin 45, Fawad Ahmed 2-49) by 159 runs

An unbeaten half-century from Daniel Hughes put New South Wales in a strong position at stumps on day three as the Blues pursued a target of 309 against Victoria at the Junction Oval in Melbourne.

The Blues made an outstanding start to the run chase with Hughes and Nick Larkin putting on 83 for the first wicket in less than 22 overs before Fawad Ahmed broke through.

He had Ed Cowan stumped to put the Blues under pressure but Kurtis Patterson and Hughes built steadily towards stumps.

Earlier, Travis Dean made his second hundred in successive matches to help the Bushrangers set a substantial target. He scored 106 from 270 balls and got good lower-order support from Peter Siddle (28) and Dan Christian (22). Trent Copeland picked up Chris Tremain to secure his 15th five-wicket haul in first-class cricket.

Victoria batsman Will Pucovski, who had been substituted out of the match with concussion, indicated he would return to action once he feels better. The 20-year old was struck on the helmet by a Sean Abbott bouncer on the second day after which he was taken off the ground for medical assistance. "It was unfortunate but that's cricket," Pucovski said in a statement. "I'm under the supervision of Cricket Victoria's medical team and we'll look at my return to play options once I have fully recovered."