NSW have butchered a golden chance to wrestle control of their match against Sheffield Shield leaders Victoria, featuring Nowra's Nic Maddinson, after a stunning top-order collapse of 7/20 late on day one.
A five-wicket haul to Blues seamer Harry Conway helped the Blues rip through Victoria and dismiss the competition front-runners for 106 at Drummoyne Oval on Tuesday.
A polished opening stand of 67 between Daniel Hughes and Nick Larkin gave the Blues the ascendancy on a pitch that appeared to be flattening out but a brilliant spell from Jon Holland (5/27) kept the visitors in the contest as NSW finished day one on 7/97.
The Blues will be leaning heavily on their skipper Peter Nevill, who watched the carnage unfold from the stands and then in the middle before finishing unbeaten on eight.
Kurtis Patterson (nine), Moises Henriques (one), Jason Sangha (zero) and Jack Edwards (two) all failed to nullify the collapse against a Victorian team that will be mighty relieved to still be in the contest on a day where 17 wickets fell.
“We’re going to walk out with our heads held high,” Conway said.
“A few young guys [were] probably disappointed in the way they got out but we’re going to come out in the morning and be positive and try and get a first innings lead.”
After winning the toss and electing to bat, Victoria made their way to 2/57 with Will Pucovski and Nic Maddinson at the crease before losing 8/49 themselves in calamitous circumstances.
Conway enticed Pucovski into a false drive on 19 and had him caught in the gully. Moments later, the 26-year-old trapped Maddinson, his former Blues teammate, in front for 24 to have the visitors in a spot of bother.
A lack of discipline cost Victoria dearly as Matt Short and Seb Gotch both fell for ducks off the bowling of Conway before the lanky right-armer snared his second first-class five-wicket haul by removing Cameron White for 10.
Conway’s final figures of 5/14 off 13 overs were his best in first-class cricket.
“I was stoked today, it was a massive reward for some hard work,” Conway said.
Trent Copeland (3/50 off 23) and Steve O’Keefe (2/17 off 14.3) also got amongst the wickets.
“We were going to bat as well and the deck had a bit of grass on it,” Conway said.
“There is not heaps in the deck so there has been some really good bowling today and poor batting at times.
"We’re going to have to go again.”
The pitch at Drummoyne offered the quicks assistance but the Blues' ability to extract swing and little bit of movement off the seam with the Dukes ball enabled them to keep their foot on the throat in the first session.
Opener Marcus Harris did his Test chances no favours after being caught in the slips off the bowling of Copeland for six.
Pucovski faced the most balls (75) of any Victorian batsman and was patient for the most part before falling into the trap of trying to drive a full, swinging delivery from Conway that was caught in the gully.
Victoria are on top of the Sheffield Shield ladder (43.31) ahead of NSW (37.46) and Tasmania (29.44).