VICTORIA and Queensland are not obvious rivals but each is fond of inflicting long stints in the field on the other, especially when the setting is a Sheffield Shield final.
The Bushrangers' latest blow in that trend was not a serious rival for the Bulls' 6-900 against them in 2005-06, nor their 8-806 at home to the Bulls four years ago. Nevertheless their ability to force Queensland to bowl almost 170 overs in 30-degree heat while one bowler down would make the visitors weary should they be required to bowl on the final day on Thursday.
Victoria's 9-536, inspired by 144 each by Michael Hill and captain Cameron White, easily delivered it first-innings points at the MCG and lifted it above Queensland into top spot on the Shield ladder. To remain there, however, it will almost certainly have to win outright given South Australia is on track to join it on 24 points by winning its concurrent home match against New South Wales.
The Bulls were unscathed from the final 15 overs of day three will begin the final day at 0-60, trailing by 154, with Greg Moller on 19 and Luke Pomersbach on 28.
At one stage Queensland had bowled just over 76 overs for just a single wicket, that of Hill after his maiden Shield century. White also profited from the Bulls bowlers' lack of presentation in a fine innings. The captain's century, brought up with a six and then a four off lanky seamer Cameron Gannon, was his first in Australia since the one he made for Australia A during England's 2010-11 Ashes series and his first in the Shield since the 2008-09 final, against the Bulls.
The dominance of the Bushrangers batsmen was, despite the 500-plus score, undermined by a last-session collapse in which they lost 5-62 before the declaration. The Bulls' best bowler, off-spinner Nathan Hauritz, belied his poor 2012-13 season record by claiming 5-135 from 54.3 overs. It was his second five-wicket Shield haul in his 48th match.
After Chris Rogers continued his resilient form on day two, with 101, it would have comforted Victoria coach Greg Shipperd that Hill and White joined the veteran in reaching major milestones. Hill was dropped once - on 74, at first slip by Peter Forrest - but White produced a chanceless innings.
It was the first time the Bushrangers have had three century-makers in an innings since October 2009, when Rogers (149), Brad Hodge (195) and Andrew McDonald (114) excelled away to South Australia.
While pitch conditions seemed ideal for batting on Wednesday the Bushrangers will be hoping for some unexpected deterioration on Thursday, which could justify their decision to select two spinners: leg-spinner Fawad Ahmed and left-arm finger-spinner Clive Rose.
■Victoria and Queensland will each be significantly bolstered for Wednesday's Ryobi Cup final at the MCG after Cricket Australia confirmed their Australia A players would be temporarily released from national duty for the match.
The Bushrangers will regain Aaron Finch and John Hastings while the Bulls will be able to call upon Joe Burns, Ben Cutting and Alister McDermott, with CA exploiting a three-day window in the series against the England Lions.
Victorian wicketkeeper-batsmen Peter Handscomb will temporarily join the Australia A squad on Friday but will also play in the domestic one-day final.