A low-scoring thriller at the Wanderers, saw Lions win their first match of the tournament.
They beat the Dolphins by 53 runs after taking six wickets on the final morning, when defeat was still more of a possibility than victory. Dolphins captain Daryn Smit said his side "dominated most of the match," and he was not simply talking them up. After choosing to field on a surface with a fair amount of grass on it, Dolphins had plenty to show for it.
Craig Alexander and Kyle Abbott took two wickets apiece and Robert Fylinck one to reduce Lions to 76 for 5. Two men who grew up on the same street in the township of Langa, in Cape Town, steadied Lions. Temba Bavuma and Thami Tsolekile shared a partnership of 68, while Tsolekile went on to make 70, something the national selectors would have watched with interest as they pick the Test squad to Australia.
Lions' lower order took them to a competitive first innings score of 265. Pumelela Matshikwe and Imran Tahir added 55 for the 10th wicket, runs that proved vital as the match went on.
Dolphins' innings was held up by a 121-run partnership between Imraan Khan and Jonathan Vandiar. Chris Morris broke through and Dolphins stumbled. None of the bottom seven batsmen managed anything more than Smit's 24 and Lions took a two-run lead into the second innings.
That looked set to increase that enormously as stand-in captain Stephen Cook led the charge with what he called the "scratchiest 92," he ever scored. He batted through the innings but lost partners too frequently as Alexander and Dane Paterson shared seven wickets. From 155 for 3, seven wickets tumbled for 78 and Lions set Dolphins a gettable 241 to win.
Vandiar made sure the Dolphins were on track and they went into the fourth day needing 92 runs with six wickets in hand.
An inspired spell on the final morning from Morris changed all that. He hit the deck hard and bowled at good pace to make the major breakthroughs. Hardus Viljoen, from the other end, chipped in with two wickets but it was Morris who stole the day. His 8 for 44 took his match tally to 12 and made him the most successful Lions bowler in a match and an innings to date.
In Port Elizabeth, the Warriors had to work harder to earn their first win of the season. Having endured a torrid two seasons in first-class cricket, they opened their account much more positively and upset the defending champions, Titans by 161 runs.
Warriors had national players Ashwell Prince and Colin Ingram to thank for their first innings total. The pair shared 100 for the fourth wicket and Prince top-scored with 76 after Ethy Mbhalati tore through the top order. Rowan Richards accounted for the the tail and Warriors' 276 would have been fewer than what they hoped for.
Their bowlers did not disappoint though. Only Jacques Rudolph, who made 94, had some measure of them as the rest of the line-up made starts but could not build on them. Basheeru-Deen Walters was the leading paceman, with 5 for 57 and Andrew Birch claimed three wickets as Warriors took a 60-run lead onto their second innings.
They built on that with little trouble. Michael Price and Davy Jacobs, who made a return from a lengthy injury break, both scored centuries. Their first-wicket stand was worth 201, in hindsight enough for them to win the match. Colin Ingram scored a quick 58 off 69 balls and Warriors declared on 353 for 5, giving the Titans a massive task - 414 to win.
At 41 for 5, the Titans must have known that was barely possible. Gurshwin Rabie took three top-order wickets to ensure all Warriors seamers were among the wickets. Heino Kuhn and David Wiese put on 177 for the sixth wicket but when Kuhn was trapped lbw by Simon Harmer, the end was near for Titans. Rabie and Birch finished them off to give Warriors a big win.