Rudi Second scored a measured 110 to hand the Knights a 74-run victory against the Warriors at Buffalo Park on Sunday.
The triumph gives the Knights an outside chance of reaching the Momentum One-Day Cup play-offs, but they’ll need to win their remaining two matches against the Highveld Lions and the Cape Cobras to come close. The Warriors remain firmly in the hunt, in third position, but they will be looking nervously below them as the business end of the tournament unfolds.
Second batted through the innings, and while his strike rate of 73.82 seemed a little slow, the importance of the knock was always going to be measured against the way the Warriors batted, and ultimately, it turned out to be a match-winning one.
The visiting Knights won the toss and chose to take strike, and it was slow going at first as Reeza Hendricks (3) fell cheaply, before Michael Erlank stuttered to 15.
It was the next partnership, between Second and Patrick Botha, that gave their side some impetus, as they waltzed to a 100-run stand, with Botha showing little fear in hitting out, smashing seven fours and a six on his way to a 54-ball 63.
It was a bit of a scrappy effort from there as Werner Coetsee chipped in with a handy 42, and while Second only hit four boundaries in his 149-ball effort, the mere fact that he hung around allowed his side to build around him as they posted a competitive 258-6.
In typical JJ Smuts fashion, he got his side off to a blistering start in response, scoring 32 of the hosts’ first 50 runs, during which Colin Ackermann and Colin Ingram fell cheaply.
They were going along fairly steadily until three wickets fell in just 12 balls. Smuts perished for 53, before Yaseen Vallie and Jerry Nqolo both fell victim to Mbulelo Budaza.
The Warriors were playing catch-up from there, and while Clyde Fortuin, Christiaan Jonker and Simon Harmer both made starts, they couldn’t push on, and they were ultimately bowled out for 184, with Erlank taking on the wicket-burglar role with three late scalps.
With three teams (Knights, Dolphins, Titans) now on three victories apiece, it sets up a tantalising finale to see if either of them can catch up to the top three to make it through to the play-offs.