Ricky Ponting played a lone hand in the Tasmanian top order, chalking up his second century of the Sheffield Shield season as he helped the Tigers shade day one against New South Wales at Blundstone Arena on Wednesday.
After Tim Paine won the toss and chose to bat in perfect conditions, the Tigers threatened to waste a solid start with a glut of wickets either side of lunch before Ponting (138 not out) and Jason Krejza (71 not out) steadied the ship with a 178-run partnership to see the Tasmanians reach stumps at 6-310.
The former Test skipper arrived at the crease an hour before lunch amid a flurry of Tigers wickets, the home side stumbling from 0-53 to 3-57 at one point as Blues seamers Josh Hazlewood (3-64) and Chris Tremain (1-58) accounted for the Tasmanian top three in the space of just 10 deliveries.
Ponting then lost Jon Wells (five), Paine (10) and Luke Butterworth (15) before finding a willing ally in Krejza and pushed on to his 79th first-class century from 167 deliveries with 15 boundaries and one six.
The pair defied the Blues for more than three hours and grew in fluency as the afternoon progressed, Krejza lucky to survive the first delivery of the second new ball when Trent Copeland (2-74) overstepped, only to see the ball breach Krejza's defence and rattle the stumps.
The plucky number eight brought up his half-century from 121 deliveries with a prod from Copeland that ran through the gully and to the third man fence and may fancy his chances of pushing for a second first-class ton on Thursday if he can find his feet again during the morning session.
Tigers opener Mark Cosgrove (36) started brightly but was brought undone by a Hazlewood delivery angled in from around the wicket that found its way through the left-hander's defence and onto his stumps.
Test aspirant Alex Doolan came in at three and survived a big shout first ball - which he followed with a boundary through backward point - and departed as the third delivery he faced thundered into his pad and he was adjudged leg before wicket.
The double breakthrough took the sheen off an otherwise solid start, the home side slipping to 2-57 after 19 overs - and sliding further into trouble when Ben Dunk (13) was dismissed in the 20th.
The former Queenslander was squared up by Tremain to be the third Tiger dismissed in 10 deliveries, putting the pressure squarely on the home side.
Ponting and Wells faced the task of rebuilding in the lead-up to lunch and the veteran may consider himself lucky to have survived an edge from Tremain that sailed past his stumps, under a diving Phil Nevill and to the fence under the sight screen for his first boundary.
Wells managed to survive the period either side of the break, but didn't make it far into the second session before Copeland caught him in front and Tasmania fell to 4-81, a situation that looked dire.
It soon became worse when Paine and Butterworth failed to dig in alongside a patient Ponting.
But with the stumps score in excess of 300 and the Blues having endured a long, hot day in the field, the Tigers will look to squeeze as many runs as possible out of the first session on day two before letting returning quick Ben Hilfenhaus loose with the new ball against a depleted Blues batting line-up in the afternoon.
First Posted 06 February, 2013 5:05PM AEST