A resurgent Thornton have City United on the ropes needing just 38 runs with eight wickets in hand to secure the win and a spot in the Maitland first grade top four.
Thornton dismissed City on a crumbling Thornton No.1 pitch for 100 led by 5-22 to Dan Willis and were 2/63 at stump with Matthew Gabriel on 20 and Willis on 18.
Thornton were without a win in the first six rounds, but since beating Eastern Suburbs in round seven just before the Christmas break they have beaten top-two teams Northern Suburbs and Raymond Terrace and had a narrow loss to the Lions after being in a commanding position.
“The priority next week is to get the runs for the win and see how we go from there,” Thunder skipper Jake Moore said.
“We then have games against Wests and Easts, who are also in that battle for the final two spots in the top four.
“The great thing is that we have our destiny in our own hands.
“The past couple of years we have started the season poorly and had good second halves, but we were always reliant on results from other teams.
“It was frustrating as we missed out on the finals by a handful of points.”
Once again the Lions turn around has been success in the Twenty20 competition, and Moore believes the confidence from that helped but the change in fortunes was also about a young team finding their feet and building in experience.
“We’ve probably been together as a group for three or four years. We’re still young but we’ve got that experience now and we have depth in bowling and batting,” he said.
“We’re all contributing to wins and I think after the loss to Terrace, when we lost eight wicket for 20 runs to lose after being in control we’ve learned that we need to stay in the game the whole time.”
Willis took full advantage of a difficult pitch to take 5-22 and while it was a difficult wicket to bowl on rival skipper Matt Trappel praised the Thornton attack.
“It wasn’t a good pitch but they bowled very well and stuck to a good line,” he said.
Parke agreed adding that the bowlers stuck to the game plan right until City were dismissed.
“City have a strong batting line up, especially when you consider Michael Heinrich and Matt Latham came in at eight and nine,” he said.
“In the past we may have dropped off in intensity and those two would have made us pay. We could easily have had to chase another 60 or 70.
“The bowlers stuck at it. Dan in particular has been in great form taking 5-22 this week and getting 80 and three wickets in our win against Norths.”