The Western Australia-Tasmania match at the WACA Ground is delicately poised with the Tigers leading by 47 runs with eight wickets in hand.
After bowling Tasmania out for 248 on the opening day, Marcus North was leading WA to a comfortable first innings lead but when he fell for 87 and WA soon after was 6-188 and 7-208, the fight for the two points was well and truly on.
However, some Twenty20 style hitting from Sam Whiteman and Nathan Coulter-Nile saw WA end up with a 31-run lead eventually being bowled out for 279.
Now at stumps on day two, Tasmania have moved to 2-78 to be 47 runs ahead with Ed Cowan not out on 16 and George Bailey on eight.
Mark Cosgrove was on a mission to score quick runs and smashed eight boundaries in 48 from 43 balls but was out with the score 1-64 when Michael Hogan had him caught at slip by captain Adam Voges.
Jonathan Wells was then trapped lbw by Hogan two balls later to leave Tasmania 2-64 before Cowan and Bailey survived until stumps.
WA began the second day at 1-59 and were 3-93 and 4-127 just before lunch when Voges was caught at second slip by Luke Butterworth off Ben Hilfenhaus for 18.
North and Mitch Marsh looked capable of getting WA close to their target before North fell afoul of a poor shot to a short ball from Hilfenhaus and hit it straight down fine leg's throat to end his knock on 87.
Marsh then didn’t last much longer caught at slip to a lazy defensive shot off left-arm spinner Doherty. He was out for 30 leaving WA 6-188.
It was then 7-208 when Ashton Turner was gone for 13, but Whiteman and Coulter-Nile started hitting out to claim first innings points and a lead of 31 for WA.
Coulter-Nile smashed 34 from 18 balls with four boundaries and two sixes and Whiteman got in on the act making 55 with eight fours and two sixes.
Hilfenhaus was the star with the ball for Tasmania picking up 6-82 from his 23.3 overs.
Hilfenhaus was happy with how the whole Tasmanian bowling attack worked hard to limit WA's lead to just 31, and now he hopes Cowan and Bailey help to set up a big total for him to have to help defend on the fourth day.
"For most of the day we bowled very well and it was disappointing we couldn’t quite get the two points but we have come here to get the six so it's game on," Hilfenhaus said.
"It's definitely very important that Ed and George start the day well. We speak a lot about partnerships and I think this is a very big one for us. Hopefully they put on a big partnership and then build up our lead by batting most of the day.
"We would love to set them 500 but it's all about getting partnerships going and trying to bat the day out so we can have a chance at bowling them out on the fourth day."
FORGOTTEN man Chadd Sayers helped ripped through Queensland's top-order to put South Australia well on track for an outright win at the Gabba.
The Bulls limped to 135 late on day two in reply to SA's 403, with Chris Hartley on 33 top scoring in his 100th first-class match before he fell to swing king Sayers (3-40).
The Redbacks opted not to enforce the follow-on and went to stumps at 0-22, a massive lead of 290 runs.
On a sombre day, players from both sides wore black armbands in honour of 11-year-old Luke Batty, who died after being bashed by his mentally ill father following a cricket training session in the Victorian town of Tyabb, southeast of Melbourne, on Wednesday night.
This time last year, the 26-year-old Sayers was being mentioned as a bolter for the Ashes summer series against England, with question marks hanging over Mitchell Johnson's red-ball form and a slew of injuries to Australia's young pacemen.
In his breakout Shield season of 2012-13, Sayers bagged 48 wickets at an astonishing 18.52 to firmly put his name in the minds of national selectors.
This season he's been less effective on more batsmen-friendly wickets, but he is still the competition's equal leading wicket-taker with 25 victims.
Sayers did the early damage against the home side on Thursday, dismissing openers Luke Pomersbach and Joe Burns as the Bulls went to tea at 5-54.
"I haven't had as many wickets as last year but as a team we've been sharing the workload more this year," Sayers told AAP.
"I think I'm bowling pretty well. I can't complain.
"The Australian team are going really well. I want to play in a Shield final with the Redbacks. Personal honours take care of themselves if you play well for the team."
At one stage, the hapless Bulls were 6-57 before Hartley and bowling all-rounder Ben Cutting steadied the ship somewhat with a 48-run partnership.
But the cause was lost when Cutting (28) was caught slogging and Hartley edged behind late in the day.
"It was simply not good enough," Hartley said. "Today there wasn't enough patience and there wasn't enough discipline on a good batting wicket."
Earlier on Thursday, a 164-run partnership between Dutch international Tom Cooper (175) and skipper Johan Botha (95) set the platform for table-topping South Australia's huge total.
The Redbacks will be desperate for maximum points as they look to claim their first Shield title since 1995-96 while any title aspirations appear gone for the Bulls, who have just one outright win from six matches.
NSW skipper Peter Nevill scored a brilliant unbeaten century as Victoria capitulated in stunning fashion at the SCG.
Wicketkeeper Nevill's 100 not out powered the Blues to an imposing total of 9(dec)-452, before carnage set in for the last-placed Bushrangers in the final half-hour before stumps.
Victoria crumbled to lose 3-0, meaning NSW's imposing 234-run first-innings lead remained completely intact heading into day three.
Without putting a run on the board, openers Peter Handscomb and Aaron Finch and then Marcus Stoinis all departed in meek fashion as the Blues bowled an incredible six straight maidens to finish the day with a firm grasp on their third victory of the season and second placing on the ladder.
Trent Copeland took 2-0 off three overs and Doug Bollinger 1-0 - with Scott Boland and nightwatchman James Muirhead to resume on Friday with a mountain to climb.
Nevill has flourished as Brad Haddin's understudy for NSW this season with two 50s and now a hundred, but doesn't want to think about where he might sit in selectors thoughts for Australia's next gloveman - which appears to be an open race.
The 28-year-old was 45 not out when No.10 Bollinger arrived at the crease, and only 67 when Steve O'Keefe came out for the final wicket.
But well supported by his tail, Nevill overcame a mediocre Big Bash League season with the Renegades to smash seven fours and two sixes in a superb knock.
"As soon as Big Bash was finished I didn't think about it anymore," said Nevill.
"I'm just going to worry about what I'm doing at the time and hopefully that's putting NSW in a winning position."
On the other end of the spectrum is Nevill's opposite number as keeper and skipper - Matt Wade.
He could only watch on as Scott Henry (92), Kurtis Patterson (94) and then Nevill rocketed past Victoria's below par first innings total of 218 after resuming day two at 2-128.
Wade has endured a difficult year, where one by one he's lost his place in the Australian Test, ODI and now Twenty20 teams, and was passed over in at least the first round of the IPL draft.
He can take an important step in the right direction by putting on a brave front when he comes out to bat on Friday - and ensure Victoria don't rue their decision to leave out David Hussey and Rob Quiney.
"It was a bad day. It's hard to lift spirits when you're 3-0 but individually we've got to find a way to get out there and do our job," he said.
"I've just got to play as well as I can in first-class cricket, finishing off the year. Hopefully I can get in and turn on another big one tomorrow."