Half-centuries by Sibonelo Makhanya and Marques Ackerman were stalling the Lions after they largely dominated the third day of their 4-Day Domestic Series clash with the Dolphins in Johannesburg on Wednesday.
The pair shared in a 110-run, fifth-wicket partnership to help their side recover from a dire 31-4 to reach stumps on 173-5.
Although stand-in captain Ackerman was run out for 62 (109 balls, 6 fours) and saving the game looked some distance away, Makhanya was still fighting on with his unbeaten 75 (137 balls, 13 fours).
The defending champions are still 87 runs ahead in the game, meaning that plenty of work lies ahead for the men from KwaZulu-Natal.
They struggled for most of the day at the Wanderers Stadium, failing to dislodge key man Rassie van der Dussen, who finished unbeaten on 154 (288 balls, 16 fours, 2 sixes).
The Lions had resumed day three on 354-7 and added 141 for the loss of just Malusi Siboto (43), before declaring on 495-8.
Proteas batsman Van der Dussen added 93 with the seamer and then put on another 72 with Migael Pretorius, who buoyed by his maiden franchise five-for with the ball, struck a four-day best of 50 not out (72 balls, 8 fours) before his captain Nicky van den Bergh called it quits.
The young seamer then struck with the 12th ball to take out Grant Roelofsen (5), with pick-of-the-bowlers Dwaine Pretorius (2-21) accounting for Jason Oakes and Cody Chetty, both for ducks, leaving the Dolphins on 5-3.
Senuran Muthusamy (3) followed shortly after, before the Ackerman-Makhanya stand halted the Lions’ charge.
And after the stand was eventually broken thanks to a direct hit by Migael, Andile Phehlukwayo (nine) ensured there was no further damage caused.