Western will be praying for other results to go their way on the second and third days of their McDonald's Country Cricket NSW Championship Southern Pool campaign after letting a first-up victory slip through their fingers on Friday.
Western's clashes with ACT-Southern Districts and Riverina are now must-win affairs after they were thwarted by Elliot Hooper's match-winning, all-round performance for Illawarra in round one, which inspired a 65-run victory.
On debut, Western's Mitch Taylor (3-31) decimated his injury-hit rivals' top order with a stunning new-ball spell at Goulburn's Prell Oval.
He picked up Ned Taylor (11), Dale Scifleet (16) and former Sydney Thunder bat Kerrod White (4) early to leave the Illawarra side reeling at 3-36, which quickly became 4-38 after Matt Stephen (1-43) dismissed Adam Berwick without scoring.
Hooper finished with a crucial 84, which came from just 90 balls, and he added 127 for the fifth wicket with Alex Brown (49). Along with former Mudgee bat Mitch Hearn chipping in a handy 26, Hooper pushed Illawarra to 7-225.
That was a far better tally than the one Illawarra were staring down the barrel of at the first drinks break albeit still a somewhat meagre one, but then Hooper once again imposed himself on the contest.
Throwing his all-rounder's hat in the NSW Country selection ring, Hooper finished with 3-26 from nine overs and all three of his scalps were crucial too.
Imran Qureshi (0) and Jaden Ekert (6) fell cheaply before Jacob Hill and James Larkin steadied the ship somewhat, pushing the score from 15 to 52 before the latter was dismissed for 24.
Hill, also on debut, continued his push alongside skipper Jameel Qureshi but they became Hooper's first two scalps, for 13 and 35 respectively. The Illawarra gun then sent Henry Shoemark (7) packing, resigning Western to panic stations at 6-111.
Connor Slattery (20) and Mat Skinner (21) tried, but Western never recovered and were eventually skittled for 160.
Western face ACT-Southern Districts on Saturday before their final preliminary clash against Riverina on Sunday, from 10am from 9.30am respectively.
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