Victoria's push to keep their stuttering Sheffield Shield title defence alive remains imperilled after a grinding second day against South Australia at Adelaide Oval.
The Vics made it stumps on Friday at 5-248, still 131 in arrears of the Redbacks imposing first innings total of 379.
The Bushrangers' two Test squad members did little to enhance their own causes ahead of the upcoming tour of South Africa, nor that of their state.
Batsman Peter Handscomb made a seven-ball duck, while veteran spinner Jon Holland proved expensive, conceding 78 wicketless runs.
In contrast, it was two debutants who helped the hosts into a position of strength.
After wicketkeeper Harry Nielsen scored 105 on day one, medium-pacer Nick Winter took three crucial top-order wickets during the middle session on day two.
He dismissed Marcus Harris (66) and then his opening partner Travis Dean (42) after they'd combined for a 114-run first-wicket stand.
Handscomb soon followed with Winter ending the day with 3-42.
Veteran batsman Cameron White played a crucial hand late in the day to reach 68 not out at the close, with Seb Gotch unbeaten on 22.
SA resumed in the morning at 9-357 with tailenders Winter and Daniel Worrall adding 22 handy runs.
Victoria are yet to win any of their five matches and another defeat would likely end their three-year reign as state cricket kings.
Australian Associated Press