The front-running Highveld Lions kept up the relentless pace when they bowled the Knights out for 248 on day one of the Sunfoil series match in Bloemfontein on Thursday.
Leading the pack by 17.24 points at the start of this round of matches, they showed there would be no let-up as the Dolphins and Titans were at each others throats in a battle to keep up and challenge the leaders.
Only Knights captain Werner Coetsee provided meaningful resistance, ending unbeaten on 65 when he ran out of partners. Obus Pienaar and Patrick Botha had tried to make a stand, putting on 50 for the fifth wicket, but none was able to consolidate and build a platform.
After Chris Morris made the initial breakthrough, dismissing Gihahn Cloete for 6 – the first of his three wickets – Hardus Viljoen and Dwaine Pretorius cut through the top order.
Viljoen had Tumelo Bodibe (5) and Reeza Hendricks (39) caught behind by wicketkeeper Thami Tsolekile, while Dwaine Pretorius grabbed the scalps of Rudi Second and Patrick Botha in his first game back after an injury layoff. Leg-spinner Eddie Leie dismissed Malusi Siboto (21) and Duanne Olivier off successive deliveries, but Quinton Friend blocked the hat-trick.
Rain shortened the day, but the Lions will be comfortable with what was achieved.
Titans v Dolphins, Centurion
In the battle for second place on the table, the Dolphins took the upper hand by dismissing the Titans for 267. One again, the Titans will look back on wasted opportunity, for they were running the show at 137-1 after they won the toss and decided to bat.
Then it all unravelled, with the three Musketeers, Daryn Dupavillon, Mathew Pillans and Keshav Maharaj breaking through and ripping the heart out of the Titans, each taking three wickets. Theunis de Bruyn fell for 52 and nine balls later the Titans were 141-4, including Henry Davids who top-scored with 79. Graeme van Buuren and Qaasim Adams tried to halt the slide with a stand of 68, but once Maharaj broke that partnership, at 209,, it became a downward slide. They lost four wickets lost for the addition of just 12 runs as Maharaj picked up three wickets in three overs.
The 23-year-old Pillans thus finished with figures of 3 for 80, while 20-year-old Dupavillon had 3 for 67 and 25-year-old Maharaj had 3 for 51.
The Dolphins openers Divan van Wyk (17) and Imraan Khan (32) then consolidated those gains by coasting to 51 without loss in just nine overs.
Cape Cobras v Warriors, Cape Town
The Warriors recovered from 111-6 to close the day on 274 for eight in a basement battle at Newlands.
Simon Harmer led the way with a fighting 94 off 137 balls (12×4, 1×6) as allrounder Darryl Brown anchored the innings with a solid 63 that stretched over four hours, facing 187 balls and hitting just six fours. He and Harmer put on 161 for the seventh wicket
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