It was back to business in the McDonald's Men's NSW Premier Cricket round nine on Saturday with two top-four clashes ensuring the heat was on from the very first ball.
Second-placed Manly-Warringah met fourth-ranked Eastern Suburbs while St George took on Fairfield-Liverpool in an evenly matched five v six showdown at Rosedale Oval.
With St George losing the toss it was always going to be tough early for batting with the ball seaming around, but the St George top three got stuck in with Nick Stapleton (58), Matt Hopkins (67) and Luke Bartier (61) all scoring hard-fought half-centuries to help the Saints to a respectable score of 4-243 off their 50 overs.
Captain Stapleton said that he was pleased with the effort given the tough conditions at the start of the innings.
"With Fairfield bowling well it was one of those pitches where we could have been rolled for a 100," Stapleton said.
As the weather came good and the pitch flattened out, Fairfield batted well and put themselves in a competitive position through an opening partnership of 66.
The Saints bowlers toiled hard and kept their team in the contest with wickets being shared around with spinner Tom Engelbrecht taking two for 38 runs.
But it was the fielding that would eventually let the away team down with a couple of dropped catches and too many missed run-out opportunities allowing Fairfield to finally pass the Saints score in the last over.
They finished with 7-246 with just four balls to spare.
At Hurstville oval, it was a different story for St Georges second grade team who due to a combination of good play, bushfires, washouts and Covid has now remained undefeated for 16 rounds and are undefeated for over a year.
After batsman Nick Shurmer finished on 89 not out from 73 balls faced Saints cruised to victory 7-291 bowling Fairfield for 239 in the 47th over.
First grade now falls back into ninth position but are just two points away from the all-important top six. They will take on Mosman in round 10 this Saturday at Hurstville Oval in another Limited Overs fixture.