Queensland emerge table-toppers in Sheffield Shield

Published: Sunday, March 6, 2005, 23:53 [IST]
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Melbourne:Queensland emerged as the new leaders of the Sheffield Shield Australian domestic cricket competition after defeating Victoria by 78 runs at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Queensland set Victoria 414 to win and their early declaration on the final day looked to have backfired as Jason Arnberger (126) and Brad Hodge (151) made a 266-run stand for Victoria.

But the home side then collapsed to lose 9-58 in 106 balls as Queensland bowled them out for 335.

Paceman Ashley Noffke returned figures of 4-78, while Joe Dawes with 2-48 and Andy Bichel with 2-58 cleaned up the tail.

The win left Queensland on 40 points and should guarantee them their seventh successive berth in the final, this time against either Western Australia or New South Wales.

Western Australia, who went into their match against South Australia on top of the table, dropped to second place on 36 points after losing by 42 runs in Perth.

New South Wales were two points further adrift in third place.

Chasing 497 for an outright win, Western Australia were dismissed for 454 after Justin Langer made 120 and Murray Goodwin 95, almost earning their side an unexpected six points.

Western Australia remains the other likely finalist although New South Wales still have hope after pulling off an unlikely outright win against Tasmania in Hobart.

They beat Tasmania by 25 runs after the home side had looked set to win the game with only 259 runs to chase in their second innings.

But New South Wales spinner Stuart MacGill claimed 6-85 in a decisive display to help bowl Tasmania out for 233 and earn his team six points.

Tasmania's last five wickets fell for 12 runs in 23 balls and three no-run wickets in the last four balls of MacGill's 25th over wrapped up the match.

Queensland will play Western Australia in Brisbane in the final round of matches next week while New South Wales need an outright win against Victoria if they are to have a chance of reaching the final.

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