Nick Stapleton and Matt Lacey shared eight wickets between them as St George scored a 67-run win over Penrith.
Saints hosted Penrith at Hurstville Oval for their round 10 two-day fixture played over Saturday and Sunday.
St George captain Trent Copeland won the toss and elected to bat on Saturday with Saints reaching 296 before they were bowled out. Young batsman Luke Bartier notched his fifth half century of the summer to top score with 70 while Blake Macdonald (66) and Peter Francis (51 not out) also made strong contributions to push Saints towards 300.
In reply, a steady flow of wickets kept St George in charge of Penrith’s run chase thanks largely to the efforts of Stapleton and Lacey.
Young all-rounder Stapleton (3-59), who also made 33 opening the batting, knocked over the visitor’s top three before Lacey (5-74) destroyed Penrith’s middle order to pick up a five wicket haul.
NSW and former Test quick Copeland told the Leader last month how impressed he had been with Stapleton’s first half of the campaign.
“I’ve actually been really amazed by the quality of cricket Nick Stapleton has produced,” he said.
“He’s someone I really enjoy playing cricket with since he’s come to the club. He’s committed to the club and its history. He understands the culture of the place.
“He’s taken on the captaincy in my absence as well. I wasn’t 100 per cent sure to go for him whether he was comfortable enough in his own skin. But not only has he done really well captaining and leading the boys but his numbers are incredible with bat and ball. He has been one real positive.”
At Glenn McGrath Oval, another impressive batting display from Sutherland wasn’t enough for them to secure victory against Randwick Petersham.
Sutherland made 8(dec)-409 on Saturday with Jamie Brown continuing his blistering form with 91. Tom Doyle also made 91 while Peter Saroukos scored 70 to have the hosts on course for a seventh win in a row.
But a dour and dogged batting display from Randwick, led by captain Anthony Sams (83) and Joshua Bohannon (83), saw the visitors cling on for a draw after finishing at 6-273.
Sutherland remain in the top three despite dropping points but weren’t able to make the most of Campbelltown-Camden’s slip as they fell to their first defeat.
Sutherland face a tough test against fellow finals hopefuls Bankstown on day one of their two-day, round 11 fixture at Bankstown Oval on Saturday.
St George travel to Waverley Oval to face finals-chasing Eastern Suburbs. Saints are in 11th place, 14 points outside the top six with five rounds remaining.