Shaun Marsh and Cameron Bancroft did their chances of Test selection no harm and Mitchell Johnson made a sucessful return to cricket but Western Australia's Matador BBQs One-Day Cup title defence is all but over following a stunning loss to Tasmania.
Marsh (68) and Bancroft (42) combined for a 102-run opening stand in WA's pursuit of Tasmania's 9-222, seemingly putting the Warriors on course for a much-needed win.
WATCH: Marsh continues impressive form
But some tight bowling from Tigers spinners Xavier Doherty and Clive Rose triggered a collapse of 4-55 before two wickets in consecutive deliveries from James Faulkner - both via tight umpiring decisions - left the Warriors 7-183 with just four overs remaining.
And the Tigers finished the job to win by 15 runs and leave the Warriors needing up to three results to go their way before their final match against Queensland on Wednesday, in which they will need a double bonus point victory.
Earlier, Johnson shrugged off an indifferent opening spell to impress in taking two wickets in his first match since the end of the Ashes two months ago.
Johnson showed signs of his brutal best // Getty Images
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Johnson bowled without luck and finished with figures of 2-41 from nine overs in his first one-day domestic game for almost three years.
Tigers left-hander Dominic Michael had held their innings together with a composed 100 from 134 balls, his maiden century in domestic cricket.
WATCH: Classy Michael makes maiden century
With two places in Australia's Test side up for grabs following the retirements of Michael Clarke and Chris Rogers, and opener David Warner racing to recover from a broken thumb, Marsh and the uncapped Bancroft are among the leading contenders to play in the first Test against New Zealand early next month.
And the WA duo are among the most in-form batsmen in country at the moment - albeit in one-day cricket - with Marsh the Matador Cup's leading run-scorer and Bancroft third.
Fresh off his record-breaking 186 against the CA XI on Thursday, Marsh struck eight boundaries and one towering six in his 107-ball innings on a slow track in Sydney's inner west.
He is 29 runs clear of Steve Smith on top of the leading run-scorers' list with 380 runs from five matches.
He shared a century stand with Bancroft, who started brightly with two crisp boundaries through the off-side before being tied down and top-edging a slog sweep to hand left-arm spinner Clive Rose his first wicket.
The 22-year-old has posted scores of 176, 5, 64, 48 and 42 in five matches since returning to the Warriors squad following the postponement of the Test tour to Bangladesh.
The left-handed/right-handed duo have now posted partnerships of 216, 6, 53, 99 and 102 in this competition.
Earlier, Johnson managed to generate impressive pace and bounce on a low wicket, bowling a particularly hostile spell to youngster Jake Doran (25) in the middle overs.
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WATCH: Plucky Doran comes unstuck
The left-armer came on at first change and took time to settle in his first spell, twice overstepping by some margin and being hit for three boundaries as his first four overs went for 19.
He was far more impressive in his second and third spells and could have easily had more than the two wickets he finished with.
After starting his second spell with two leg-side wides, Johnson extracted an inside edge past the stumps of Michael before troubling Doran with some short deliveries in an aggressive maiden over. Another edge from Michael just evaded the gloves of wicketkeeper Sam Whiteman a short time later.
— cricket.com.au (@CricketAus) October 17, 2015
But Johnson finally broke through and took two wickets in the first over of his third spell; Doran hit a back-of-a-length delivery to Nathan Coulter-Nile at mid-off before Evan Gulbis had his stumps disturbed just three balls later.
Johnson hasn't played since the fifth Ashes Test in August, having been rested from the ODI series against England and the now postponed tour of Bangladesh.
WATCH: Johnson rattles the stumps
He also sat out WA's first four matches of the Matador Cup as Cricket Australia continued to manage his workload ahead of a Test summer that features three matches each against New Zealand and West Indies.
Johnson will be available for at least two more matches before the first Test against New Zealand early next month; WA's final group game against Queensland on Wednesday and the day-night Sheffield Shield clash against the Tigers on October 28-31.
WATCH: Tigers fight to 9-222
Tigers XI: Paine, Dunk, Michael, Bailey (c), Doran, Faulkner, Gulbis, Rose, Doherty, Fekete, Bird #MatadorCup
— cricket.com.au (@CricketAus) October 17, 2015