A WEEK of turmoil followed last week's second-day forfeit to Warilla Kooka, but the Rail have bounced back in spectacular style, grabbing a first innings lead in the local derby against Albion Park.
After the Eagles had moved into fourth spot last week following an outright win over Shellharbour, the Rail bowled the Park out for just 97. At stumps they have taken a 35-run first innings lead, with a big effort needed again next week.
The Park won the toss but were bowled out cheaply, with Joel Willstrop taking 4-30 and Jake McBride, who has been playing third grade and second grade all season, taking 4-22.
Willstrop was also the hero with the bat, with four fours and two sixes in his 60 as his side finished with 9-132. In-form Rob Monaghan was the pick of the Eagles bowlers with 4-41.
Shellharbour are on track for an upset win over leaders Oak Flats after routing the Rats for just 95 at Tom Willoughby Oval.
Sent in to bat on a damp wicket, the highly rated and normally high-scoring Oak Flats side never really fired, apart from 29 from Kieran Gray, with skipper Ben Mitchell (5-35), Matt Rae (3-13) and Alex Brown (2-26) all bowling well.
In reply the Scorpions were in trouble at 2-0, but Brown (24) and Pat Moulton (24 not out) steadied the innings with a partnership of 43 to end the day at 3-53.
Warilla Kookas had to work for the advantage against Kiama at Cavalier Park, but look to be on target for a win.
Scott Peachman top scored with 35, with support from Mick Perry and Allen Sullivan, but five wickets to Cavs spinner Matt O'Brien (5-34) saw the visitors crawl to 131 after having been 3-82.
However, things soon turned sour for Kiama and at stumps they had fallen to 6-77, with Sam Wolf top scoring with 34.
Chris Leaudais did most of the damage with the ball with 4-24.
Lake Illawarra managed to dominate the opening day against Gerringong-Jamberoo at Kevin Walsh Oval.
On a slow outfield, the Lakers ground out 215, with good batting from Dave Lambert (50) and Scott Ulcigrai (45) the main contributors, with Lambert getting good support in the lower order from Jamie Crowhurst and Brian Smith.
Brian Harris took three wickets and Shane Abarca, Callum Houghton-Smith and Michael Swain all took two.
However, as has been the case for most of the season, the Jet-Bulls struggled for runs, and with just 10 batsmen were bundled out for 62 right on stumps.
Scott Groves easily top scored for the home side with 23, while the ultra-consistent Jamie Crowhurst took 5-11 off nine overs.