Ashton Turner and Joel Paris put WA on the cusp of back-to-back titles
Turner made his first Shield century in more than five years and shared in a century stand with Paris who later took three wickets as Victoria's top order crumbled
Victoria195 & 6 for 122 (Handscomb 52, Sutherland 40*, Paris 3-32, Kelly 2-17) lead Western Australia 315 (Turner 128, Sutherland 5-75) by 2 runs
Ashton Turner struck a memorable drought-breaking century before inspired bowling from Joel Paris and Matthew Kelly tore through Victoria late on day three to put Western Australia on the brink of defending their Sheffield Shield title.
Victoria reached stumps in a forlorn position at 6 for 122 in their second innings with a lead of just two runs. Their fading hopes rest with Will Sutherland and Mitchell Perry who combined for an unbeaten 48-run stand before the close. Sutherland finished 40 not out having come in at No.8 due to back soreness after claiming his second five-wicket haul in consecutive Shield finals.
WA's first innings of 315 was dominated by Turner's career-best 128, his first Shield century in over five years. He rescued WA out of trouble after they slumped to 4 for 53 in his second match since returning from a near three-year Shield exile.
"We feel like we've got ourselves into a really nice position," Turner said after play. "It's our responsibility to play well tomorrow and try and finish the game."
Victoria needs to win the match outright to claim the title having lost out on the bonus points after the first 100 overs of each innings.
"I think anything over 100 (run lead) at least gives us something to bowl to. But we would need everything to go our way," Victoria coach Chris Rogers said.
With Victoria trailing by 120 runs, all eyes were on 21-year-old Ashley Chandrasinghe after his remarkable stonewall in their first innings where he made 46 off 280 balls to carry his bat.
He started quickly in comparison with a single off his fourth ball before edging through the slips for a boundary to somewhat speed to seven off 14 deliveries.
But former Test opener Marcus Harris looked out of sorts and played an uncharacteristically rash shot to hit a rare loose Paris delivery straight to point. It capped a disappointing match for Harris, who made just 19 in the first innings having struck three tons in four previous finals. He was hoping to finish the season strong after missing out on Australia's Test tour of India ahead of the mid-year Ashes.
Left-arm quick Paris was rewarded amid a superb spell by finally breaching the stout defence of Chandrasinghe, who had a rare lapse to be bowled after shouldering arms. He finished with 54 runs off 304 balls overall in his first Shield final.
Paris thought he had a third wicket when he hit Campbell Kellaway on the pads but was left frustrated when his confident shout was turned down.
Victoria captain Peter Handscomb defied WA's attack with a slew of boundaries in a contrast to his rusty first innings, where he seemingly struggled to adjust to the pace-friendly wicket in his first match since the tour of India.
But he lacked support with Kelly dismissing Kellaway and in-form Matthew Short to leave Victoria reeling at 4 for 70. Handscomb on 49 survived a confident appeal from Paris, who was again aggrieved with a tight lbw call.
But Paris finally had a decision go his way when he trapped Sam Harper for a duck before Handscomb holed out to deep point off speedster Lance Morris for 52.
WA have gained a stranglehold over the contest after starting day three at 5 for 175, trailing by 20 runs.
Turner had started his innings briskly with cavalier batting but struggled on resumption, stuck on his overnight score of 49 in gloomy conditions. Turner finally scored after 40 minutes to register his first Shield half-century since December 2018.
Seamers Sutherland, who claimed four wickets on day two, and Scott Boland generated bounce and carry as they tried to fire up Victoria whose momentum had been derailed by rain on day two.
The tireless Boland dismissed wicketkeeper-batter Josh Philippe, brilliantly caught by Sutherland at midwicket with WA still 17 runs behind. But Turner found willing support from Paris, who produced a couple of rearguard knocks during last year's final, as WA powered into the lead.
Turner rediscovered his rhythm as sunshine descended on the ground and the surface appeared to be flattening. He had little difficulty against Victoria's attack which struggled to probe outside of Boland and Sutherland.
Test offspinner Todd Murphy, selected ahead of veteran left-armer Jon Holland, had little impact in his debut appearance at the WACA. Turner treated Murphy with disdain, attempting a reverse sweep first up and then just before lunch nudged a single to reach his century amid rapturous applause.
With Murphy ineffective, Handscomb turned to Short's handy offspin and he promptly dismissed Paris for 31 to end the 105-run partnership.
Turner shortly after succumbed to a pumped-up Sutherland snaring a deserved fifth wicket, but there was little to celebrate for Victoria after that.
Tristan Lavalette is a journalist based in Perth