Rowan Richards took 7-28 as the Titans ended their victorious season in style, crushing the Cobras by 10 runs on Saturday.
It was a scarcely believable script when the Cobras started the day needing just 136 runs, with 10 wickets in hand, to win and keep the Titans’ champagne on ice as the Knights fought to keep slim hopes alive against the Dolphins.
But up stepped Richards, the 31-year-old left-arm paceman, who has had few opportunities with the Titans this season. He proceeded to register his best first-class return by first removing the first-innings hero Omphile Ramela for 0, and then, after contributions from Ethy Mbhalati and Tabraiz Shamsi, smashing through the middle order.
Only Andrew Puttick (22) and Dane Vilas (25) passed 20, while the last six batsmen could muster just 40 runs between them. Of those, 32 came from Dane Piedt (15) and No 11 Dane Paterson (17) who, for a while, looked as though they would spoil the party.
It was a fitting finale to a solid season by the Titans, who had set the early pace with five wins. They may have slowed up in the closing stages, which gave first the Lions and then the Knights a glimmer of hope, but perhaps the defining moment came when Dean Elgar batted for almost six and a half hours for a score of 173 to force a draw and deny the Lions a much-needed victory last time out.
They will remain indebted to Heino Kuhn, who was the backbone of their batting, scoring over 1 000 runs, supported by the likes of Elgar (608) and Theunis de Bruyn (602); while the unorthodox left-arm spinner Tabraiz Shamsi led the attack with 41 wickets, in tandem with Marchant de Lange (38).
While the Titans were sipping champagne, the Knights were struggling to stay in the game after being bowled out for 218 in reply to the Dolphins‘ 375, ending their very slim title hopes.
The Dolphins went on a spree in their second innings, running up 224-4 off 55 overs, with opener Imraan Khan leading the way with 106 off 155 balls. They declared with a lead of 382 runs and at the close the Knights were 22-3.
In Port Elizabeth, the Warriors pressed home their advantage over the Lions, winning by an innings and 101 runs after bowling out the visitors for 206.
Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix