Gutsy half centuries from Mitchell Gray and Ollie Robinson have St George in a strong position after day one of their clash with Randwick Petersham on Saturday.
With only three rounds of the regular season remaining and Saints in 11th place, St George need to win all their matches to have any chance of making the NSW Premier Cricket first grade finals.
Without a number of their stars on representative duty including captain Trent Copeland, Moises Henriques and Kurtis Patterson, stand-in skipper Nick Stapleton won the toss and elected to bat at Hurstville Oval.
Despite losing Stapleton (8) early on, fellow opener Gray dug in to make 72 from 141 balls. When he was eventually dismissed, wicketkeeper-batsman Jonathan Rose (57) and Robinson (71) combined for a 102-run partnership before St George lost Rose.
Luke Bartier (24) and Kaleb Phillips (21) also made starts for Saints before No.11 batsman Matthew Lacey made 30 to push St George to 325 before they were bowled out.
Joshua Bohannon was the best with the ball for the vistors taking 3-31 from his 10 overs. Gregory West (3-52) also took three scalps with Daniel Sams (2-25) and Adam Semple (2-81) the other wicket takers.
Three of St George’s rivals for a finals place, Manly, Bankstown and Eastern Suburbs, also batted on Saturday with Manly and Easts in similar positions to Saints. Manly are 9-303 against Parramatta while Easts are 7-369 against Sydney. Bankstown made only 233 against Campbelltown-Camden.
Meanwhile, Sutherland let a strong position slip with a late collapse on day one of their clash with Hawkesbury.
Sutherland opener Jarryd Biviano made 95 with in-form Jamie Brown making 79 at Owen Earle Oval as the visitors made 8-286.
Biviano enjoyed an 86-run partnership with captain Chris Williams (33) at the top of the order before sharing a 106-run stand with Brown.
Sutherland appeared to be cruising a 2-227 when they lost Peter Saroukos (12), Brown and Luke Hawksworth (1) for just six runs.
Austin Waugh (22 not out) and Tom Doyle (31) offered some middle order resistance but Sutherland were to lose Daniel Fallins (2) and Jake Wilson (0) late on.
Usman Qadir starred with 3-111 for Hawkesbury including the wicket of the dangerous Brown. Joshua Clarke (2-50) and Jaskaran Cheema (2-5) were also among the wickets.
With only two points separating top of the table Sydney University and Sydney in fifth, second-placed Sutherland need to win to keep up their hunt for the minor premiership. They are level on points with Sydney University who restricted University of NSW to 7-286.
Both matches resume on day two on Saturday at 10.30am.