Tasmania almost pulled off a stunning victory in their Bupa Sheffield Shield clash against New South Wales, but the Blues held on for a draw in a thrilling final session at Blundstone Arena on Saturday.
A career-best four-wicket haul to Evan Gulbis and three scalps to Ben Hilfenhaus provided a twist in the tail of a game that ticked along at a pedestrian rate for three days before springing to life in its final throes.
The Blues eventually held on to draw with two wickets to spare and with fielders crowding David Dawson (19 not out) throughout the final Gulbis over.
Chasing 171 runs off 25 overs, New South Wales made a quick start, but quickly lost the ascendency with Gulbis (4-36) and Hilfenhaus (3-37) chipping in with vital late wickets and Adam Maher taking 1-3 as the Blues hung on during a tense finale to finish on 8-123.
With smoke from nearby bushfires hanging over the ground and the stadium lights on at one stage, Chris Tremain had produced a red-hot triple-wicket maiden to reduce the Tigers from 6-241 to 9-241 in the space of five deliveries.
When he cleaned up Maher from the second ball of his next over, the Blues were left with a winnable run chase - a scenario that had looked highly unlikely all match.
But as the chase faded, the Tigers kept on coming and ultimately went within a whisker of snatching the six points on offer for an outright win.
The 21-year-old Tremain, bowling in just his third Shield match, finished proceedings with a career best 5-57 from 12.2 overs, taking the final four wickets from eight deliveries for no runs, the Tigers collecting just four byes as the tail collapsed unceremoniously and the Blues scented outright points.
With the match seemingly meandering towards an early conclusion, Tremain charged in from the Church Street end to first beat Jason Krejza's defence and clip the top of his middle stump, removing the first-innings centurion for 11, and then had Gulbis out nicking behind from the next ball.
Hilfenhaus lasted just three deliveries before Tremain rattled his timber and number 11 Maher could only survive three himself, Tigers skipper Tim Paine looking on from the non-striker's end and no doubt baffled by what was unfolding before him.
Needing to score at almost seven runs per over, the Blues promoted Nic Maddinson to open alongside Scott Henry, the intent to attack at all costs in search of a famous win.
Henry (five) was out caught in the deep in the third over, but Maddinson began to motor with a series of lofted boundaries and peeled off a quick fire 31 before skying Hilfenhaus to Ricky Ponting at midwicket
Tim Cruickshank (25) was the only middle-order batsman to gain any real traction as the chase began to flounder late in the day and the Blues had to settle for two hard-earned first-innings points.
Earlier, Tasmania's Mark Cosgrove (92) had batted fluently throughout the morning session, combining with Alex Doolan (52) for a 97-run second-wicket partnership, but looked out of sorts in the half-hour after lunch and eventually fell eight runs short of what would have been the fifth century of a match dominated for long periods by the willow.
The burly left-hander had passed 50 from 77 deliveries and when he was out trying to smash Adam Zampa (1-41) down the ground had hit 15 boundaries, but the manner - and timing - of his dismissal left plenty to be desired.
Ponting couldn't repeat his first-innings heroics and despite enjoying a reprieve when Josh Hazlewood (2-54) dropped a sharp caught-and-bowled chance in the last over before lunch, was out two balls later when the final delivery of the session kept low and skittled his stumps to send the Blues to the break happy with their morning's work.
When Jon Wells (10) was dismissed lbw by Tremain and Cosgrove threw his wicket away with an ugly swipe at Zampa that lobbed to Doug Bollinger (1-38) at deep mid-on two balls later, the Tigers suddenly found themselves five down and only 99 runs ahead with almost two sessions to play.
Sensing it was time to attack, Ben Rohrer placed catchers around the bat but couldn't budge Paine (27 not out) or Luke Butterworth (24), the experienced pair compiling a patient 52-run partnership and steering the home side to within sight of the tea break before Maddinson (1-3) bobbed up to take Butterworth's wicket, his first in Shield cricket.
From there, things quickly unravelled for the Tigers with the last five wickets falling for just 19 runs in worrying fashion.
The two first-innings points they took from the week in Hobart propels New South Wales above the Tigers and into fourth spot on the Shield table, but both sides are still a chance of pushing for a top-two finish with three matches remaining.
The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cricket Australia
First Posted 09 February, 2013 7:05PM AEST