Only Dean Elgar and Qaasim Adams stood between the Titans and humiliation as the Dolphins set themselves up for an early victory and a secure second place on the log.
The Dolphins resumed their innings on 314-6 at Centurion on Saturday, but Marchant de Lange stepped up to snatch three quick wickets and help restrict the total to 352, a lead of 85.
The Titans were in trouble from the start, losing their first four wickets for 87 until Adams joined Elgar at the crease. Together they put on 138, when Calvin Savage had Adams caught behind for 72, off 133 balls.
He followed that up by dismissing David Wiese (0) two overs later and starting a slide the Titans could not stop. From 225-4, they were 261 all out. The final three wickets fell in seven balls without a run being scored. Among them was Elgar, who ended on 122, having faced 174 balls (11×4, 2×6), with the remarkable strike rate of 70.
The Dolphins now face a victory target of 177 which will keep them in the hunt as the Lions forge ahead. If the Knights hold out, the series takes on a whole new dimension.
Knights v Lions, Bloemfontein
Bad light and stiff resistance by Gihahn Cloete and Reeza Hendricks gave the Knights a fighting chance of saving the game against the Lions.
The Knights openers put on 76 as they attempt to match the Lions’ first innings offering of 441. Still trailing by 117, they have a long way to go to make the Lions bat again with enough of a target to defend.
Cloete was on 33 and Hendricks on 38 when the day ended early.
The Lions’ formidable total was built on Neil McKenzie’s 52 first-class hundred
Cloete (33) and Hendricks (38) saw off the new ball threat from the in-form Lions attack and took the Knights to stumps on 76 without loss, but they will still go into day four trailing by 117 runs thanks to Neil McKenzie’s 52nd first-class ton. He was finally dismissed by Duanne Olivier after spending more than seven hours in the field, hitting 16 fours off 256 balls. He was backed up by Thami Tsolekile, who took his overnight score from 14 to 48 before being bowled by off- spinner Werner Coetsee.
The tail did not match up to the effort shown by the top order and McKenzie got little support as Coetsee went on to claim 5-78 – his eighth five-wicket haul. Olivier ended with 4-94.
Cape Cobras v Warriors, Cape Town
The Cobras made sure they would not lose this game, but they may not win it after batting on to a total of 545 and a lead of 257.
Warriors openers David White (20) and Michael Price (58) dug in for 29 overs to end the day on 88, showing the Cobras that victory will not be easy.
Resuming the innings at 316-3 overnight, Omphile Ramela celebrated his 27th birthday by moving on from 81 to 129 of 311 balls, his third first-class century. His contribution was well supported by Justin Kemp, who scored 73 off 112 balls (12×4), Dane Vilas (38) and Robin Peterson (29).
The Warriors still trail by 169 runs. It will be a long day if they are to save this match and deny the Cobras just their second win.